Maeshowe

Maeshowe

Maeshowe is one of the most impressive chambered tombs in Orkney.Thought to date from around 2700BC, it is constructed from Orkney flagstones some of which weigh up to 30 tonnes and clay.There is a low entrance passage on the south-west side of the mound which leads into a large central chamber.Three smaller side-cells branch off from the main chamber.

It appears from the outside as a large grassy mound in a field….




Information board……



View from the entrance….

For a few days each year as the midwinter sun drops below the horizon,its rays shine directly on the rear wall of the central chamber-aptly described in George Mackay Brown’s poem ‘Maeshowe:Midwinter’..

George Mackay Brown was born in Stromness in the Orkney islands in 1921.His first book was published in 1954 and he went on to write many books including plays,novels,short stories and poetry.
His  book of poetry entitled ‘Following a Lark’ was ‘written mainly in praise of the light, and to glorify in a small way the Light behind the light,that gives life and meaning to all the creatures of earth……:

‘Maeshowe:Midwinter’
Equinox to Hallowmas,darkness
falls like the leaves. The
tree of the sun is stark.

On the loom of winter,shadows
gather in a web;then the 
shuttle of St Lucy makes a 
pause;a dark weave
fills the loom.

The blackness is solid as a 
stone that locks a tomb.
No star shines there.

Then begins the true ceremony of 
the sun,when the one
last fleeting solstice flame
is caught up by a
midnight candle.

Children sing under a street
lamp,their voices like
leaves of light.

George Mackay Brown Poems
‘Following a Lark’
1996
John Murray Publishers,London.

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