Tomb of the Eagles

Isbister Chambered Cairn

Useful Information

Location: St. Margarets Hope, Orkney
From Gills Bay Ferry Terminal to St Margarets Hope, through the village, first junction turn right towards Burwick A961, after 10 km turn left, 1.8 km.
Open: MAR daily 10-12.
APR to OCT 9:30-17:30.
NOV-FEB after appointment.
Fee: Adults GBP 6, Children (13-18) GBP 3, Children (5-12) GBP 2, Children (0-4) free, Students GBP 5, Seniors GBP 5.
Groups (10+): 10% discount.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Tomb
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided, D=2 h.
Address: Tomb of the Eagles, Liddle, St. Margarets Hope, Orkney, Scotland, KW17 2RW, Tel: +44-1856-831339.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1958 discovered by the farmer Ronnie Simison.
1976 excavated.


The Isbister Chambered Cairn is a Late Stone Age grave or cemetry which was constructed about 3,000 BC and used for approximately 800 years. During this time about 340 individuals were buried inside the cairn. There is a rectangular main chamber with stalls and side cells. The number of people buried in the cairn is actually unclear and disputed, as the people were not buried as we know today. Only parts of the bodies were stored here, the skulls in side chambers and the other bones in the two end cells. One theory explains the findings with excarnation by leaving the body exposed for animals to scavenge, or by butchering the corpse by hand. However, this theory is not undisputed.

The site is known as Tomb of the Eagle, named after 70 talons from the white-tailed sea eagle and the remains of at least 14 birds found inside the tomb. They were found alongside the human remains. A rather suggesting explanation would be the birds being the totem of the people who built the tomb.

The site offfers a Visitor Centre, a Bronze Age excavation site halfway to the tomb, which is 1.5 km from the Visitor Centre. The underground part is the visit to the tomb itself. The passage into the Tomb is only 70 cm wide and 85 cm high, visitors have to crawl for about three meters. There is also a trolley to pull visitors through the short passage if they are not willing or able to crawl.