Holidays in Maes Howe

Holiday Travel Guide
Maes Howe showing interior views and heritage elements

Part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, this fascinating chambered tomb predates the Egyptian pyramids.

Maes Howe is among Europe’s finest Neolithic burial chambers. Built around 3,000 B.C., this mysterious structure features remarkably sophisticated stonework. Take a tour of the tomb’s interior and admire its massive sandstones, as well as the intriguing runic graffiti that was added thousands of years after its construction.

The chamber, which dates back more than 5,000 years, is remarkably well-preserved. It spans 115 feet (35 meters) in diameter, and some of the slabs used to build it were more than 18 feet (5.5 meters) long and 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide. Notice that on the outside, the chamber looks simply like a large, grassy mound. It remains unclear why this chamber was constructed or who was interred here.

Enter the chamber through its 47.5-foot (14.5-meter) long passage. This passageway is perfectly aligned to function as a calendar. On the winter solstice, the sun shines straight down this passage and illuminates the back of the central chamber.

Follow the passageway uphill and enter the main chamber, which is only 15 feet (4.7 meters) wide. Notice the huge upright stones found at each corner of this chamber.

Examine the runic graffiti cut in to the walls of the chamber. If you look closely, you’ll also spot a number of intricate carvings, including a serpent, a lion and a dragon.

The tomb was raided by Vikings during the 12th century, and Norse crusaders later took shelter here during a blizzard. The graffiti left by these groups comprises the largest surviving collection of runic inscriptions in the world outside of Scandinavia. Not unlike modern graffiti, many of these inscriptions read things like "Haermund Hardaxe carved these runes," and "Ingigerth is the most beautiful of women.”

Maes Howe is located 6 miles (10 kilometers) northeast of Stromness, and 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Kirkwall. Buy your tickets in the visitor center at Tormiston Mill, across the road from the site. Admission is through a timed guided tour; phone ahead to book a certain tour time. Opening hours vary by season. Marvel at the skill needed to construct this incredible Neolithic site.

Top activities in Maes Howe

213 Cheap Hotels Near Maes Howe

The Stromness Hotel by Paymán Club
The Stromness Hotel by Paymán Club
2 out of 5
The Pierhead, Stromness, Scotland
The price is AU$92 per night from 1 Dec. to 1 Dec.
Situated in Stromness, this hotel is steps away from Standing Stones of Stenness, Mainland and Piers Art Centre. Stromness Ferry Terminal and Stromness Museum ...
4/5 Very Good! (3 reviews)
Friendly hotel. Everything required was supplied.
"Quite a short notice booking. The hotel was very reasonably priced but had everything required for the stay."

Reviewed on 18 Nov. 2021

The Stromness Hotel by Paymán Club
Standing Stones Hotel
Standing Stones Hotel
3.5 out of 5
Stenness, Stromness, Scotland
Situated in Stromness, this hotel is steps away from Standing Stones of Stenness and Mainland. Maes Howe and Ring of Brogdar are also within 2 miles (3 km).
4.4/5 Excellent! (8 reviews)
Dog friendly, clean & well kept.
"The team at Standing Stones could not do enough for us. They were attentive and friendly. The hotel was in nice condition, the room was stylishly decorated and clean. The hotel was accommodating to our dog. Highly recommend."

Reviewed on 2 Mar. 2020

Get rates
Standing Stones Hotel
Lindisfarne Bed & Breakfast
Lindisfarne Bed & Breakfast
3 out of 5
Lindisfarne, Stromness, Scotland
The price is AU$166 per night from 12 Dec. to 12 Dec.
Situated in a rural location, this bed & breakfast is steps away from Standing Stones of Stenness and Mainland. Stromness Ferry Terminal and Piers Art Centre ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (37 reviews)
"What a great property! The house is very homely, welcoming and comfortable. The Pepper family were great. Breakfast was very tasty with an excellent selection. I would absolutely recommend the Lindisfarne B&B."

Reviewed on 1 Oct. 2021

Lindisfarne Bed & Breakfast
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Maes Howe

Search flights


Top Maes Howe Hotel & Accommodation Deals

The Stromness Hotel by Paymán Club
The Stromness Hotel by Paymán Club
2 out of 5
The Pierhead, Stromness, Scotland
The price is AU$92 per night from 1 Dec. to 1 Dec.
The Stromness Hotel by Paymán Club
Standing Stones Hotel
Standing Stones Hotel
3.5 out of 5
Stenness, Stromness, Scotland
Standing Stones Hotel
Lindisfarne Bed & Breakfast
Lindisfarne Bed & Breakfast
3 out of 5
Lindisfarne, Stromness, Scotland
The price is AU$166 per night from 12 Dec. to 12 Dec.
Lindisfarne Bed & Breakfast
Charming 3 bedroom family home close to Stromness
Charming 3 bedroom family home close to Stromness
Bu Road, Stromness, SCT
Charming 3 bedroom family home close to Stromness
Stromness Apartments
Stromness Apartments
3.5 out of 5
Milldam, Cauldhame Road, Orkney, Stromness, Scotland
Stromness Apartments
The Royal Hotel Stromness
The Royal Hotel Stromness
3 out of 5
55-57 Victoria St, Stromness, Scotland
The price is AU$205 per night from 5 Dec. to 5 Dec.
The Royal Hotel Stromness
Ferry Inn Stromness
Ferry Inn Stromness
3 out of 5
10 John Street, Orkney, Stromness, Scotland
Ferry Inn Stromness
Harbour Cottage
Harbour Cottage
3.5 out of 5
Ferry Road, Stromness, Scotland
Harbour Cottage
The Stromness Hotel
The Stromness Hotel
3 out of 5
The Pierhead, Stromness, Scotland
The Stromness Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.