ONE of Orkney’s most renowned prehistoric sites has reopened to the public.

Access to the chambered cairn at Maeshowe – built 5000 years ago and regarded as a masterpiece of Neolithic design – was restricted due to the pandemic but is once again open to visitors.

On the outside, the site resembles a large grassy mound (the word “howe” deriving from the Old Norse for “hill"), with visitors entering by stooping to walk along a passageway before reaching the famous central stone-built chamber.

The burial site has been described as the finest surviving Neolithic structure in northwest Europe and is part of is a central part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site – along with other local attractions including the Stones of Steness, Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae village, all of which are open to the public.

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Historic Environment Scotland (HES) reopened over 70% of its estate last year, however, some of the sites had remained closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Visitors can now book tickets to the historic attraction as part of HES’s new seasonal activity for 2022. More sites are set to follow in reopening across the country on a rolling basis.  

Stephen Duncan, director of marketing and engagement at HES, said: "We are delighted to have even more of our sites such as Maeshowe reopening up and down the country and across our islands for the summer season, allowing us to again provide visitors with the opportunity to enjoy much-loved heritage attractions.   

“With over 5000 years of history in our care, we have adopted a phased approach to reopening a lot of our sites, presenting as diverse a mix of attractions as possible and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to enjoy more and more of Scotland’s world-class historic environment after what has been an extremely challenging time for everyone involved in the tourism and heritage sectors.”