Orkney Day 3
We set off back in time again on day 3....back to 2700BC when Maeshowe was built. It is a prehistoric chambered cairn, the complexity and grandeur of which has led to the idea that Maeshowe was built to demonstrate the power of a "social elite" within the tribal system of the time. It's another site that forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Maeshowe looks like a large pimple on the landscape but once you enter inside the hill and make your way through the 3-ft high entrance tunnel you arrive inside a large chamber with 3 l-shaped smaller chambers. It's been estimated that it took 100000 man hours to complete the chamber. It does seem strange that even though it is a burial chamber no bones were found inside. A similar chamber on South Ronaldsay, the Tomb of the Eagles, contained the bones of at least 300 people.
After travelling back to the present day we headed off to the small town of Stromness for lunch. It is one of the main ports on the islands but also a well-preserved stone built town with a narrow, winding main street......and lots of nooks and crannies in which to find amazing photographic opportunities - it's just a pity the sky was so leaden and the light so flat.
The Pier Arts Centre was established in 1979 to house a collection of British art, gifted to the islands by the author Margaret Gardiner. It's buildings were originally the office and stores of the Hudson's Bay Company and have been sympathetically extended to create a complex of galleries which front onto the harbour. The permanent collection is housed upstairs and has a number of Barbara Hepworth paintings and sculptures along with other artists such as Alan Davie and Alfred Wallis. I loved the building, it's seats placed where the water meets the windows, the light perfectly highlighting the art......
Alongside the Pier Arts Centre, the town itself has numerous craft shops selling beautifully hand-crafted and knitted goods. Once again the inspiration of the island's landscape was evident.