Recent floods highlight theory on Maeshowe’s ditch

Picture: Historic Scotland

The flooded ditch around Maeshowe.

A theory that the ditch surrounding Maeshowe was designed to be filled with water has come to the fore, following last month’s floods in Orkney.

Dr Colin Richards suggested, in the 1990s, that 5,000 years ago, the chambered cairn’s ditch was filled with water, cutting off thetomb  from the surrounding landscape. This, he said, formed an invisible barrier, isolating the world of the living from that of the dead.

His theory was graphically illustrated last month when torrential rain left the ditch, which is now a fraction of its former size, filled to the top.

Contemplating the idea, Alan Jones, Historic Scotland manager at Maeshowe said: “If this was the case, thanks to the storms we caught a real glimpse of the site as the prehistoric settlers would have intended, which is truly fascinating.”

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