Thought to be the only prehistoric rock-cut chambered tomb in the UK, the Dwarfie Stane is a special place to visit.
Orkney is famous for its chambered cairns and tombs, which are littered across the local landscape. This one in Hoy is definitely one-of-a-kind though. Found in the middle of a moorland, just a few hundred metres off the road towards Rackwick, the Dwarfie Stane could date back as far as 3500BC.
The huge slab of rock found its final resting place after being dropped by retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Measuring just eight metres long, the Dwarfie Stane features a narrow opening which leads to a small chamber inside. This hollowing-out work would have been carried out by hand, using simple tools made of stone or antler - a quite remarkable feat.
Inside you'll find two bed-style sections - try lying down on them and you'll see where the site gets its name from!
There's plenty of mystery surrounding the Dwarfie Stane. It appears to have never been the subject of an official archaeological investigation, and there are no records of finds from the site either. Also, the tomb itself was still sealed by the huge slab of sandstone found adjacent to the entrance until the 16th century.
Another curiosity is the Arabic carving found on the south side, left by Victorian traveller, Major William Mouncey. It reads 'I have sat for two nights and have found peace'.
There is a small signposted car park off the road, and a good track made up of boardwalk and stone leads off into the moorland towards the site.
The car park is also the location of RSPB Orkney's 'Eaglewatch' during the spring and summer months. The crags above the Dwarfie Stane have become the nesting site of a pair of white-tailed eagles, who successfully bred the first sea-eagle chicks in Orkney for 145 years in 2018, with further success in 2019 and 2020. If they return in the future, you'll be able to take advantage of some expert spotting advice and scopes from the local RSPB representative to try and catch a glimpse of them yourself.