And finally… 5,000-year-old cairn reopens to the public
Maeshowe, one of Orkney’s most renowned, prehistoric sites has reopened to the public.
Access to the chambered cairn had been restricted due to the Covid pandemic, however, the visitor centre reopened last year to share the story of the site with visitors to the islands.
The finest surviving Neolithic structure in north-west Europe, the burial site was built around 5,000 years ago and is regarded as a masterpiece of Neolithic design and construction.
Externally the site resembles a large grassy mound (the word “howe” deriving from the Old Norse for “hill), with visitors entering by stooping to walk along a long passageway before reaching the impressive centrall stone-built chamber.
Located in one of the richest Neolithic landscapes in Europe, a place of stone circles, villages and burial mounds, Maeshowe is a central part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, along with other local Neolithic period sites -Stones of Steness; Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae village - all of which are open to the public.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) reopened over 70% of its estate last year, however, some of the sites had remained closed during the pandemic.
Visitors can now book tickets to the historic attraction as part of HES’s new seasonal activity for 2022, with more sites set to follow in reopening across the country on a rolling basis.
Stephen Duncan, director of marketing and engagement at HES said: “We are delighted to have even more of our sites such as Maeshowe reopening up and down the country and across our Islands for the summer season, allowing us to again provide visitors with the opportunity to enjoy much loved heritage attractions.
“With over 5,000 years of history in our care, we have adopted a phased approach to reopening a lot of our sites, presenting as diverse a mix of attractions as possible and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to enjoy more and more of Scotland’s world class historic environment after what has been an extremely challenging time for everyone involved in the tourism and heritage sectors.”