Tomb of the Eagles

Tomb of the Eagles

The Tomb of the Eagles, or Isbister Chambered Cairn, is a Neolithic chambered tomb located in Orkney, Scotland.


The Tomb of the Eagles was built around 3,000BC and was in use for around 100 years.


Ronald Simison, a farmer, when digging flagstones in 1958 found 5000 years old stuffs, explored the site and then he conducted his own excavations at the site in 1976.

What Found???

16,000 human bones and 725 from birds which were identified as predominantly belonging to the white-tailed sea eagle and new dating techniques say that the eagles died in c. 2450–2050 BC, up to 1,000 years after the building of the tomb.

 Bones and Skull of Sea Eagle
 Half way between the visitor centre and the Tomb, are the remains of a Bronze Age site, sometimes called the Liddle Burnt Mound.
Liddle Burnt Mound

Eagle’s talons, mace head, potsherd and part of he skull of a young woman

Talons, Mace head and Potsherd Skull

Bronze Age tools laid out at the Burnt Mound site

Bronze age Tools

When Mr. Simison notified the authorities of his discovery, they were slow to act on the information. So slow, in fact, that several years passed and nothing had been done to preserve the site. Under the terms of the law governing ancient sites, the cairn became the property of the Mr. Simison.

This burnt mound was the result of many years accumulated residue from peat fires used to heat the building. The building itself was originally thought to be a house.

About 9,000 years ago, first people are believed to have arrived here by boat.

The entrance of the Tomb faces the sea.

Entrance of the Tomb

Study of the human bones indicates that everyone had a right to burial in the tomb.


 The burial chamber is 8.2m long and between 1.2 and 1.6m across with walls that still stand as high as 2m

A fair amount of pottery, including typical Unstan bowls, was discovered in the tomb, mainly on the area of floor opposite the entrance.

The cairn was not built in one go, but around 150 years after the first stage of construction, and over the space of around 200 years, the tomb was gradually enlarged.

Outside, large numbers of animal remains within the hornwork seemed to indicate that the sacrifice of animals, particularly calves.

Weighing in at around 26kg, the pottery shards came from an estimated 46 different pots.

Very few people lived beyond the age of about 25 years, and the few people who lived as long as 50 years would have had a vital role in maintaining traditions and expertise.

Physically, Isbister people were smaller than today’s population: men averaged 1.7m (5 ft 7 in) and women averaged 1.6m (5 ft 3.5 in), but they were very muscular.


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