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Tomb of the Eagles, South Ronaldsay

Categories: Ruins, History Museums, Museums, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.1/5 based on 280 reviews on the web
The Tomb of the Eagles, or Isbister Chambered Cairn, is a Neolithic chambered tomb located on a cliff edge at Isbister on South Ronaldsay in Orkney, Scotland. First explored by Ronald Simison, a farmer, when digging flagstones in 1958, he conducted his own excavations at the site in 1976. Alerted by Simison, archaeologist John Hedges then mounted a full study, prepared a technical report and wrote a popular book that cemented the tomb's name.16,000 human bones were found at the site, as well as 725 from birds. These were identified as predominantly belonging to the white-tailed sea eagle and represented between 8 and 20 individuals. These were originally interpreted as a foundation deposit; however, this interpretation has been challenged by new dating techniques. These reveal that the eagles died c. 2450–2050 BC, up to 1,000 years after the building of the tomb. This confirms growing evidence from other sites that the neolithic tombs of Orkney remained in use for many generations.
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  • A privately-run exhibit, the guide will introduce the information in a friendly, accessible way. You then take your time walking the beautiful, cliff-side mile to the tomb itself. Marion was so friend...  read more »
  • I was greeted at the entrance by a nice young lad (sadly i don't remember his name),who explained the site in general before i bought a ticket.After that,a small introductionary talk was held about th...  read more »
  • We really enjoyed this, our first experience of an Orkney tomb. The tour starts with a brief presentation at the visitor's centre, at which you can handle some of the artifacts, followed by a self gui...  read more »
  • A trip to Orkney is not complete without a trip to the wonderful family-run Tomb Of The Eagles with its astonishing Neolithic cairn and Bronze Age building. The visitors centre is modern, well-appointed and has a gift shop and toilets. The name refers to the presence of Sea Eagle claws amongst the deposits left by the community that used the cairn 5000 years ago. The presentation, delivered by the highly knowledgeable and very helpful staff, covers the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze eras. You can actually hold the Tomb of The Eagles finds in your hand during the presentation. I know of no other museum which allows this. Other cairns that you can visit have long since had the contents removed and either lost or put in a museum. The Tomb of The Eagles staff interpret the finds superbly. The family have worked closely with archaeologists over many years to ensure that the information given is as accurate as possible. The Tomb is as it was when Ronnie Simison expertly excavated it over 50 years ago, and you can go inside. If the weather is bad, you can even borrow waterproofs. The Tomb is situated overlooking spectacular cliffs and the birdwatching is excellent. The walk to and from the cairn takes you by a beach frequented by seals. If you read the excellent book Tomb Of The Eagles by John Hedges you will find out how important this cairn is to modern understanding of the Neolithic era - it is simply the best information available to us on British communities that existed 5000 years ago. Also at this site is a fantastically well preserved bronze age burnt mound which is a bronze age community building. Bronze Age buildings occur all over Britain, but ones in such good state of preservation as this are incredibly rare. If you want to learn about the prehistory of Britain then a visit to the Tomb of The Eagles is thoroughly recommended.
  • This was a brilliant experience. The talks were informative, the sites were amazing and the people running the visitor centre were friendly and helpful. The set up is very good for anybody as there is wet weather gear to borrow for those not prepared. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning.
  • A really interesting experience. It was really nice to see the museum and go over the history of the tomb and where it got it's name before heading along some dangerous cliffs (no fences last time I went) to the tomb itself. The owners were lovely and really seemed to know a lot about the tombs history. It's one place that will remain in my memories! Really cool!
  • I went when I was a young lad - 13 or so, and Ronnie's wife sat us down in their conservatory and talked us through thousands of years of history. I'm 42 now, and can honestly say that holding on to a three thousand year old skull is embedded in my memory, as is the ride to the tomb on the back of Ronnie's tractor trailer.
  • Not actually a must see, we felt extremely patronised during the talk and it seems confused as to the purpose of the tomb. Far better to see other sites that are mostly cheaper.
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