dwarfie stane

Dwarfie Stane is a megalithic chambered tomb carved out of a titanic block of Devonian Old Red Sandstone that was deposited in the area by a glacier. It is the only chambered tomb in Orkney that is cut from stone rather than built from stones and may be the only example of a Neolithic rock-cut tomb in Britain. A stone slab originally blocked the entrance to the tomb on its west side, but now lies on the ground in front of it.

The name is derived from local legends which say the dwarf “Trollid” lived there, although, ironically, it has also been considered the work of giants. The tomb was popularized in Walter Scott’s novel The Pirate published in 1821.

There is a variety of 18th and 19th century graffiti on the rock-cut tomb. One is an inscription in Persian calligraphy that states “I have sat two nights and so learnt patience” left by Major William Mounsey, who camped here in 1850. Above the Persian is his own name written backwards in Latin.

The tomb is located in a  glaciated valley of peat between the settlements of Quoys and Rackwick on Hoy, an island in Orkney, Scotland.


Rock - Dwarfie Stane, Orkney - Scotland by Merv Sarson
Via Flickr:
The Dwarfie Stane Lying in an isolated spot in the valley of Hoy is a large boulder, which has been hollowed out to create two ‘cells’ on either side of a small passage. A closing stone lies next to the entrance. No one knows exactly when the stone was excavated, but there are several tales of who did the work. One tale says it was executed by Trolld, an ugly and malignant goblin.Another story tells how the stone was used as a prison by a giant who wanted to be the sole master of Hoy. However, he had competition as another giant couple also lived on the island, so he took it upon himself to imprison them in the Dwarfie Stone.Unfortunately, his plan failed to work as the imprisoned giant gnawed a hole in the roof of the stone until it was big enough for him and his wife to make good their escape. The hole can still be seen today.Legend also tells us that the stone was home to a dwarf named Snorro, who had a deformed and twisted body. His face, however, was handsome and as the years passed he never seemed to get any older. He appeared to spend his time collecting herbs, which he made into potions and sold at ridiculously high prices to the people on the island.

This stone, it was said, bestowed special powers to the finder. Health, wealth, happiness and everything else a human could wish for would be his if only he could find it.