14/08/2017
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Midhowe Chambered Cairn receives £30,000 investment from Historic Environment Scotland

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One of Scotland's largest chambered cairns, on the Isle of Rousay in Scotland, is to benefit from £30,000 of Historic Environment Scotland funding, for conservation work to go ahead.

Midhowe Chambered Cairn on Rousay island, which is 3km north of the Orkney mainland, is a Neolithic chambered cairn where the remains of at least 25 humans have been found. The cairn stands twenty metres from the shoreline and is sheltered from the elements by a stone and steel structure erected in the 1930s, following the initial excavation of the site.

Giving an insight into conservation efforts at the time, the shelter makes use of traditional stonework and is naturally ventilated and lit rather than being completely enclosed. Above the Cairn, a 33 meter long walkway allows visitors a unique view of the partitioned burial chambers, where the remains of 25 individuals were found.

Video of Midhowe Chambered Cairn:

The conservation work

This summer, work will be undertaken to restore the steel elements of the structure and tackle climate-related corrosion, so the Cairn can continue to be enjoyed by all. HES Head of Conservation North, Lucy Vaughn said: "Chambered cairns are not uncommon in the north of Scotland, but this is one of the best preserved examples thanks to careful conservation.

"That conservation can be a slow process, and in this case, it is lengthened due to the constraints at the site.We understand that there will be some disappointment for visitors to the island hoping to see Midhowe, but these works will ensure that that the site remains in an excellent state, providing a distinctive view of a Neolithic burial site for years to come.”
 
Protecting Midhowe Chambered Cairn
 
The work will see extensive scaffolding erected to allow Historic Environment staff and contractors access to the roof, and to protect the Cairn while work is going on. The corrosion will then be treated, and the steel trusses repainted. The treatment for the corrosion will require an extended period of time to cure, and require comparatively warm and dry conditions.
 
A final inspection will be carried out before the scaffolding is removed. As the site relies on natural lighting, work has begun in August to allow staff to maximise daylight to avoid poor weather conditions that might delay work and transport of materials. The site is expected to reopen in December 2017.
 
For more on the cairn, visit the Historic Environment Scotland website.

(Images copyright Otter; video courtesy of Myinfoonline Business Pages)

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