The Tomb of the Eagles, or Isbister Chambered Cairn, is a Neolithic chambered tomb. First explored by Ronald Simison, a farmer, when digging flagstones in 1958, he conducted his own excavations at the site in 1976. Alerted by Simison, archaeologist John Hedges then mounted a full study, prepared a technical report and wrote a popular book that cemented the tomb's name.

16,000 human bones were found at the site, as well as 725 from birds. These were identified as predominantly belonging to the white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) and represented between 8 and 20 individuals. These were originally interpreted as a foundation deposit, however this interpretation has been challenged by new dating techniques. These reveal that the eagles died c. 2450–2050 BC, up to 1,000 years after the building of the tomb. This confirms growing evidence from other sites that the neolithic tombs of Orkney remained in use for many generations.

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Address

B9041, Orkney, United Kingdom
See all sites in Orkney

Details

Founded: 3000 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

David Johnson (3 years ago)
Great visitor centre, nice walk and saw baby seals on the beach on the way back
Nick Cook (3 years ago)
A fantastic family run attraction, dog friendly, novel way of entering the tomb. Seals in the sea on the scenic walk back.
Liam (4 years ago)
Very interesting Historic site, but this is not an ideal day out with Kids (especially in October). There is a long walk from the Visitor centre to the Tomb itself, longer than the signs make you believe. The staff are very knowledgeable and engaging, and there are beautiful views in all directions.
Alistair Mcgregor (4 years ago)
Great detail about the history, living conditions, tools and ornaments worn by the people of this era. The guide was knowledgeable and her enthusiasm for her subject made it all the more enjoyable. The views are lovely and we watched 2 rock climbers scaling one of the cliffs adding excitement to the mix. Well worth a visit.
Kerry Wiggins (4 years ago)
Very friendly and enthusiastic guides who described the site and the history of its discovery and some of the objects found there. The site is not fiercely marketed and makes you feel as though you really part of an experience and not just an observer. The walk along the cliffs is breathtaking (we saw a couple of seals). The site is primitive, but all the better for it, and everything is catered for, including knee pads, torches and dog poo bins. Absolutely not to be missed.
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