The island of Rousay lies across the Eynhallow sound, and can be reached
by ferry from Tingwall. The centre of the island is mainly high moorland
with a large RSPB reserve at Trumland, and two excellent trout lochs at
Muckle Water and Peerie Water. The lower lying land around the coastline
is more fertile and has a large number of archeological sites.
Aerial view of Rousay
(C) Richard Welsby
The Taversoe Tuick chambered cairn is an unusual monument in that it consists
of two chambers set one above the other, and a smaller subsidiary chamber
at the entrance to the lower tomb. The lower chamber was dug into the hillside,
and is entered by a passage on the south east side of the mound. The lower
tomb itself is roughly rectangular and is divided into four sections by
upright stone slabs. The upper tomb is entered by a passage on the north
side and has been completely enclosed by a modern dome.
The Blackhammer chambered cairn is an oblong stalled cairn with a long inner
chamber divided into seven sections by upright flagstones. The outer wall
of the cairn was constructed with extraordinary care, and consists of a
foundation layer of flat slabs with layers of slanting slabs laid on top
in interlocking triangles.
The Knowe of Yarso is another chambered cairn, roughly rectangular with
rounded ends, and an entrance passage on the south east end. The inner chamber
is once again, divided by upright flagstones. When excavated, this cairn
contained the remains of 29 people. The tomb was in use around 2900 BC.
The Midhowe chambered cairn has been enclosed in a large buiding to protect
the stonework which has been completely uncovered. Externally, the tomb
measured 32.5 metres in length and was almost 13 metres wide. The inner
chamber, divided into 12 sections by upright flags, is some 23 metres by
2 metres. The external wall was built with a herringbone pattern, and this
can be clearly seen on the east wall.
The Broch at Midhowe is a fine example of the type. It stands to a height
of roughly 4.5 metres, and is 18 metres in diameter. The doorway of the
broch faces out to sea, and it is thought that the larger of the two inlets
which flank the broch may have been a landing place for boats.
The south western end of Rousay around Quandal was the only place in Orkney
to suffer clearances under the infamous General Burroughs. The system of
runrigs or long strips of land, originally used to divide the land, can
still be seen.
Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby
Copyright Orknet 1996