Hoy Island revisited – Visting the Dwarfie Stane

Despite any bad weather we came prepared to the Orkney Islands – goretex clothes and boots. We revisited the Northern parts of Hoy island (by the Graemsay ferry). We visited two sites on Hoy. The Old Man seastack – no matter the heavy winds, people were climbing on it – and the neolithic rock-cut tomb called the Dwarfie Stane. Probably named Dwarfie after an old story about troll couple being its first inhabitans. The myth was also remembered and re-popularized by Sir Walter Scott who wrote about the Stane in his novel The Pirate (1821). The tomb has been plundered by making an opening through the roof of the chamber. The time of this event is not known, but the hole in the roof had been noted by the 16th century. The stone marking the sealing of enterance was pushed out a century, later. An unusual rock-cut tomb, the Dwarfie Stane, lies in the Rackwick valley in the north of the island. It is unique in northern Europe, bearing similarity to Neolithic or Bronze Age tombs around the Mediterranean. .

20130721-141421.jpg It was raining heavily when we reached the Dwarfie Stane and impossible to take any reasonable photos with my Nikon. The enterance ground was also watery and I didn’t manage to crawl in properly. The reputed Victorian graffitti carved on the right side of the wall is in a miserable condition and will most likely dissappear in the future. Notable Graffitti was left by Major William Henry Mounsey (b. 1808) of Castletown and Rockcliffe was a British spy who worked in Persia and Afghanistan. He was also interested in archeaology and visited the Stane in 1850. He left and inscription in Persian, translated two nights I sat here and learned patience. He also inscribed his own name backwards. What he really thought about the visit is not known. Despite the heavy rain I managed to take this photo of Major Mounsey’s baffling carvings. I thought the inscriptions looked a bit withered and not cared for.

20130721-145018.jpg Hoy means ‘high’ in old Norse. In Norse mythology, according to Snorre Sturlasson Hoy is the location of the never-ending battle between Hedin and Högni.

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