British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain
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Maes Howe

Maes Howe

Maes Howe, or Maeshowe is among the finest chambered tombs in Europe, dating from around 2700 bce. It was said to be inhabited by a Hogboy, but human beings have left their mark on the site as well. Carved here, among many graffitis left by intruders and plunderers, is a picture of an animal usually interpreted as a dragon and some of the writings relate to buried treasure. The poem Beowulf tells of a hoard guarded by a dragon in a barrow containing a secret passage, and it has been suggested that upon entering Maes Howe the Scandinavian men who went viking to Orkney and found this place drew the dragon and wrote the runes because they were so vividly reminded of the episode. There may, however, have been some factual element: one of the inscriptions states that treasure was concealed north west of the barrow, and in 1858 a cache of Scandinavian silver ornaments was found at Sandwick, some way north west from Maes Howe.