Fascinating displays and interactive talks offer insights into the lives of ancient people who lived in Orkney from approximately 9,000 to 2,000 years ago.
Enjoy the unique privilege of a 'hands-on' experience at the Tomb of the Eagles Visitor Centre. Here we display and handle some of the original artefacts found at the sites. Priceless ceremonial and working tools, pottery and jewellery enable the visitor to bring ancient history to life.
A new exhibition room features cutting-edge research into the submerged landscape, visualising for the first time how 'Mesolithic Orkney' may have looked when the first people are thought to have arrived after the Ice Age, 9,000 years ago. The display uses art work based on the research with information, illustrations and replica tools, giving visitors an insight into the lives of these nomadic hunter-gathers before the Neolithic settlers began farming.
Perched above the dramatic South Ronaldsay cliffs, the Isbister Chambered Cairn – better known today as the 'Tomb of the Eagles' – is one of Orkney's top archaeological sites. Discovered by chance, by local farmer Ronnie Simison in 1958, the Stone Age tomb revealed an amazing collection of bones and artefacts, placed here some 5,000 years ago. A distinguishing feature of the Tomb of the Eagles is that it contained the bones and talons of approximately 14 white-tailed or 'sea eagles' – perhaps representing a status symbol and/or tribal totem.
Roughly half a mile inland from the tomb is a 3,000 year-old Bronze Age site – Liddle Burnt Mound – which earned its name from Ronnie's farm where it was discovered. Excavations revealed a building complete with stone trough, water system and hearth adjacent to a mound of burnt stone. Although archaeologists agree that water was heated by dropping hot stones into the trough, there is much debate about how it was used.
Enjoy the cliff-top scenery and wildflower trail as you visit the sites. The gift shop offers a small selection of light refreshments: filtered hot drinks, chilled drinks, confectionery and Orkney ice cream. For sale are many high quality items made by local craftspeople.
Tomb of the Eagles
St Margaret's Hope