Chamber of secrets: Historic Scotland launches virtual tour of Maeshowe

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Orkney is world-famous for its spectacular Neolithic archaeology, and now visitors from all over the globe will be able to explore one of its most enigmatic monuments, after a new virtual tour of Maeshowe chambered tomb went live today (29 August).

In a video unveiled yesterday by  Scotland’s  Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the structure of the 5,000 year old monument has been recreated using  3D laser-scans carried out by the Scottish Ten project – a collaboration between Historic Scotland,  Glasgow School of Art and CyArk, to document Scotland’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and five international sites using cutting-edge digital technology. This data will be used to help research and conserve the monuments.

Maeshowe is shown at the winter solstice, when the setting sun shines directly down the monument’s entrance tunnel to illuminate its central chamber. Covering every inch of the inner rooms of the tomb, the animation also tours the outside of the mound and reveals how it was constructed in a detailed cut through.

Click below to take a virtual tour of Maeshowe  

‘Maeshowe has fascinated people for millennia with its incredible structure, having been built even before Egypt’s great pyramids,’ Nicola Sturgeon said. ‘Now, people on the other side of the world can use this new tour to get a better understanding of the ancient and magical history Scotland has on offer.’

She added: ‘This is a special moment for the Scottish Ten project, which will see all five Scottish World Heritage Sites and five international sites digitally recorded using laser-scanning technology. The work will aid in their conservation and the practical data has also allowed the creation of a beautiful vision of Maeshowe at the Winter Solstice, to educate and inspire people to come to see it for themselves, along with the other treasures of Orkney’s Neolithic World Heritage Site.’

We are featuring one of the stunning laser scan images of Maeshowe, together with more information on the Scottish Ten project in  Current Archaeology  271 (on sale early September).

Read more about Orkney’s awe-inspiring archaeology

Latest discoveries from Orkney: find out more about  Orkney’s first farmers and a Neolithic settlement pre-dating Skara Brae.

Extraordinary preservation: Orkney’s  wealth of well-preserved Neolithic structures  is world famous.

Rethinking prehistoric religion: read more about the Ness of Brodgar’s  monumental Neolithic temples

Fascinating figurines: meet the Brodgar Boy


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