Westray Stone

Contributed by Orkney Museum

Pecked neolithic stone carvings on local sandstone block copyright Orkney Islands Council

Spiral pattern similar to carved stones in the Boyne Valley, IrelandThe Westray Stone is a wonderful carving from a Stone Age tomb. The complex pattern of spirals is believed to have been cut more than four thousand years ago.

The stone is 1.34 metres long, and in two parts. It probably broke when it was rediscovered in 1981, by a digger driver at Pierowall Quarry in Westray in Orkney. The second part was found in the archaeological excavation that followed the discovery.

The stone was probably part of a tomb like Maeshowe in the Orkney Mainland, for there are similar spiral-carved stones from tombs in the Boyne valley in Ireland, but the tomb at Pierowall Quarry was destroyed in prehistory. An Iron Age roundhouse was built over it about two thousand years ago, but it was also destroyed. All knowledge of the monument was lost until it was accidentally rediscovered in 1981.

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