The Tomb of the Eagles

The Tomb of the Eagles is a burial tomb built by Neolithic people which was discovered accidentally in 1958, by farmer Ronnie Simison, who was searching for flagstone to use as corner fence posts.

The Tomb of the Eagles, South Ronaldsay, Orkney

He initially uncovered a small chamber containing beautiful polished and well preserved artefacts including a mace head, three stone axe heads, a bead, a small limestone knife and approximately 30 human skulls.

Ronnie Simison at the Tomb of the Eagles

In 1976 Ronnie Simison conducted his own excavations at the site. He had no previous experience in archaeology, but had spent two years observing the work of professional archaeologists who had uncovered another historical site nearby in 1973 and 1974.

Burnt Mound at the Tomb of the Eagles in Orkney

This site, a Bronze Age house, can also be visited today.

During the 1976 excavation work on the Neolithic tomb, Ronnie discovered parts of human skeletons, animal bone, pottery, stone tools and jewellery. Amongst the animal bone was a large quantity of white-tailed sea eagle bones. Were these eagle talons a tribal totem to the people of the Stone Age? The tomb was thereafter known as the Tomb of the Eagles.

Tomb of the Eagles axeheads and artefacts

Traditionally, a totem animal is chosen by an individual or tribe to get in touch with specific qualities found within an animal that they need or connect with. Totem animals would be considered good luck and a great source of strength.

The Tomb of the Eagles was built in 3,150 BC and was in use for 800 years. There is 1 mile walk to the tomb across farmland. At the halfway mark there will be a sign one direction will lead you to the Bronze Age house (built approximately 2,500 years ago) and the other to the tomb. Raincoats and boots can be provided for wet and muddy conditions.

Inside the Tomb of the Eagles in Orkney

The entrance tunnel into the Tomb of the Eagles is very low, but there is a wheeled trolley that visitors can lie down on to enter the tomb, and they can stand up once inside!

Pottery found at the Tomb of the Eagles in Orkney

For those unable to walk to the Tomb there is a ‘guided tour’ booklet with pictures and an explanation of the walk the Bronze Age house, tomb and giving visitors the full experience from the comfort and warmth of the visitors centre.

The Tomb of the Eagles Museum, South Ronaldsay, Orkney

At the visitors centre there is also a gallery dedicated to Ronnie Simison showcasing the MBE award that he received in 2008 for his wonderful discovery. Without Ronnie’s determination this treasure may still have been hidden. The visitors centre also has refreshments available and Orkney crafts for sale.

The tomb of the Eagles is on a cliff edge at Isbister on South Ronaldsay in Orkney, Scotland.