5,000-year-old monument known as the Dwarfie Stane lies in a steep
sided valley between Quoys and Rackwick on the island of Hoy.
huge block of hollowed-out red sandstone measuring about 8.5 metres (28
feet) long, the Dwarfie Stane is thought to be Britain’s only example
of a rock-cut tomb. It should be stressed, however, that not all
archaeologists share this opinion.
it has been suggested that the rock fell, or was cut, from the rocky
outcrop on the rock face above - known as the Dwarfie Hammars - this
appears unlikely. The sheer height of the cliff face would surely
have broken the rock in its descent.
presence of another similar rock slab - the Partick Stane - about 200
yards along the valley would indicate that both stones were dropped by
retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.
makes the Dwarfie Stane remarkable is the fact that the massive stone
was hollowed out using nothing but stone, or antler, tools, muscle
power and patience.
An opening, three feet square, is cut into
the middle of the stone's west face and leads into the inner chamber.
chamber contains two rock-cut spaces resembling bed-places, both of
which are too short for anyone of a normal stature. These were
undoubtedly responsible for the origin of the dwarf folklore that
surrounds the site.
outside the entrance is a large sandstone block, which was originally
used to seal the opening. We know that the tomb was still sealed in the
some point, it appears that someone attempted to break into the stone
via the roof. This left a hole that remained until it was filled with
concrete. There is no record of any archaeological excavation being
carried out on the Stane, nor do we know what, if anything, was found