Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tomb of the Eagles, Orkney Islands, Scotland

by Christy Jackson Nicholas

Eagle Point
We were just starting the second week of our three week journey through the Highlands and the Islands of Scotland. As we had traveled farther north, the weather got cooler, of course, despite it being near Summer Solstice. To compensate, we had very long days, and in the Orkney Islands, we only had a few hours of twilight each night to mark the setting sun. This allowed us to visit many places, despite the cool weather and strong winds.

We headed out to one far end of the main island, to a place known as the Tomb of the Eagles. This was a place that, if it wasn’t the end of the world, it must be close. It felt isolated, desolate, in spite of the lush green grasses that grew all around. There is a small museum for the tomb at the home of the farmer who discovered it, explaining the cairn, its discovery, and the items found in the tomb. It was built over five thousand, one hundred years ago, and just recently unearthed, mostly due to the fact the rocks were straight, while all the natural rock around was at a sharp angle.

We walked out along the coastal path to the tomb, about a half mile walk. Out into the ocean we could see forever, the rare sunlight glinting on the sea like a blanket of stars. The tall grasses on either side of the path swayed in the strong wind, and occasional needles of rain made their way into our jackets as we marshaled on.

As we rounded the coast and found the chambered tomb, we realized we would have to pull ourselves in on a low cart, on our back, using the rope affixed to the roof of the entrance. It was, so they said, tall enough to stand inside when we got in, but it was a very small entranceway. We took the plunge and entered, finding three chambers. There had been sixteen thousand human bones at the site, and over seven hundred from sea eagles – thus the name of the tomb. Perhaps it was a totem animal, but these eagles had died out about a thousand years after the tomb was built.

Orkney Eagle Tomb

This tomb is one of the oldest buildings in the United Kingdom, along with Skara Brae and Maes Howe on the same island. The state of preservation of these buildings lent much to the fact they had been buried for so long, undisturbed over the centuries, waiting for time, luck, and perhaps a bit of divine guidance, to reveal them to the descendants of their builders.

This information and more is available in my newly published ebook called Stunning, Strange and Secret, a Guide to Hidden Scotland. It contains some myth and history, tips and tricks to planning your own trip, and lots of hidden gems and photographs. It is available in several formats at
Please visit my author page on Facebook.


Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.


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