Hoy, Dwarfie Stane
You may copy, display, store and make derivative works for personal use or use solely within an educational institution by staff and students, under these conditions: the ScotlandsPlaces website is attributed, there is no commercial use or sale, and no public distribution (for example, by hand, email, or web). Full licence details.Hoy, Dwarfie Stane. General view of Dwarfie Stane with figure seated on top. Erskine Beveridge Date 1894 Copyright RCAHMS
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of ScotlandCanmore ID
HOY AND GRAEMSAYCouncil
HY 2430 0043Latitude, Longitude
HY20SW 8 2430 0043.
(HY 2430 0043) Dwarfie Stane (NR)
OS 6" map, Orkney, 2nd ed, (1900)
The Dwarfie Stane, unique in the British Isles, consists of an entrance-passage and two flanking cells cut in a huge flat block of sandstone. The squared stone which originally plugged the entrance now lies near by. A hole cut in the roof of the north cell and passage is probably to be associated with the removal of this 'plug'. Miss Henshall regards the Dwarfie Stane as being the ultimate devolution within the Bookan sub-group of Orkney-Cromarty chambered cairns, rather than evidence for direct contact with the Mediterranean, where similar tombs exist.
A S Henshall 1963; RCAHMS 1946
The Dwarfie Stane is as described and planned by Henshall.
Visited by OS (NKB), 15 June 1967
This was the monument most frequently mentioned by early travellers in Orkney, beginning with Jo Ben in the sixteenth century; it was most successfully popularised by Sir Walter Scott in 'The Pirate'. Johnston's paper is a good source for early references. The Stone, a natural sandstone block at the foot of the hamars S of the Rackwick road, is Britain's sole example of a rock-cut Neolithic tomb. An entrance in the S face opens into a short passage giving access to two small chambers. A stone lying immediately outside the doorway is the right size and shape to have originally closed the passage; a hole made at some time in the passage roof has recently been made good by Scottish Development Department (SDD).
Most writers retail versions of folklore relating to the Stone; a particularly detailed account, of uncertain provenance appears in Chambers Journal for 1864. Eighteenth-and nineteenth-century graffiti are a notable feature, prominent being those by Major William Mounsey, a former British spy in Afghanistan and Persia (Iran); his name with the date 1850 appears on the south face, above a line of beautiful Persian calligraphy which reads ' I have sat two nights and so learnt patience' - in reference to Mounsey's experience of the Hoy midges when he camped at the Stone. The translation has kindly been provided by Dr G R Sabri-Tabrizi, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh.
30m ESE of the Stone is another big boulder which seems to have been intended as a closing stone; it measures 1.55m by 1.05m by 0.8m and is shaped at one end into a 'stopper' form more neatly than the shaping of the closing stone now in front of the doorway. In a line downslope N by W from the tomb, at 11m, 17m and 19m from it, are massive edge-set boulders. The positioning of these may be fortuitous, but they could conceivably be remnants of an alignment running up to the Stone.
G Barry 1805; J Wallace 1700; M Martin 1716; W Scott 1822; anon 1864; A W Johnston 1896; C S T Calder and G Macdonald 1936; RCAHMS 1989, visited July 1985