Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave situated on Mainland Orkney, Scotland. It was probably built around 2800 BC. In the archaeology of Scotland, it gives its name to the Maeshowe type of chambered cairn, which is limited to Orkney. Maeshowe is a significant example of Neolithic craftsmanship and is, in the words of the archaeologist Stuart Piggott, "a superlative monument that by its originality of execution is lifted out of its class into a unique position." Maeshowe is a scheduled monument and is part of the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney", a group sites including Skara Brae, which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Maeshowe is one of the largest tombs in Orkney; the mound encasing the tomb is 115 feet in diameter and rises to a height of 24 feet . Surrounding the mound, at a distance of 50 feet to 70 feet is a ditch up to 45 feet wide. The grass mound hides a complex of passages and chambers built of carefully crafted slabs of flagstone weighing up to 30 tons. It is aligned so that the rear wall of its central chamber held up by a bracketed wall, is illuminated on the winter solstice. A similar display occurs in Newgrange.
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Orkney Islands, United Kingdom
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