Unstan Chambered Cairn
This 5000-year-old burial tomb is just one of hundreds of similar sites to be found throughout Orkney, but this site in the West Mainland is in exceptionally good condition and incredibly easy to find.
The structure sits on the banks of the Stenness Loch, only a few miles from the town of Stromness. From the outside Unstan looks like a smaller version of Maeshowe, which is further east along the main road. It certainly shares similarities with its larger cousin, with a long, narrow entrance passage and beautiful, intricate stonework.
This chambered cairn boasts features of both kinds of traditional burial chambers found in Orkney. Once you're in the main chamber you'll see separate 'stalls' as well as a small, individual 'cell'. Other cairns from the Neolithic tend to feature only one or the other. Human remains were found in both sections when the cairn was first excavated, with animal bones also discovered.
Archaeologists also found beautiful Neolithic pottery too, with smashed sections of around 30 bowls excavated from the floor of the structure. The bowls were inscribed with a design which has become known as 'Unstan Ware'. Other examples of the design were also uncovered at the Knap of Howar in Papa Westray.
Unstan gives visitors the perfect opportunity to explore Orkney's ancient history.