Dwarfie Stane – Hoy, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Dwarfie Stane

Hoy, Scotland

Legends surrounding this megalithic tomb range from giants to a dwarf named Trollid. 


Many megalithic monuments have been associated with legends of giants, the Dwarfie Stane in Orkney is no exception. Except this megalith is only six feet tall and has a unique moniker. 

Carved out of a block of Devonian Old Red Sandstone, the Dwarfie Stane is a glacial erratic and chambered tomb dating back many millennia, somewhere between the Neolithic and Bronze Age. It can be found in a peatland valley on the island of Hoy in the Orkney Islands. 

The stone was made popular by the 1821 novel The Pirate by Walter Scott, who recorded its legend. According to the local folklore, the Dwarfie Stane was once home to a dwarf named Trollid. The story may have originated from the island’s contact with Vikings, whose myths of dvergar (dwarfs) and trolls may have confused the island’s ancient inhabitants. There have also been claims that giants created the megalith.

In 1850, British army officer Captain William Mounsey camped here and carved an inscription on the Dwarfie Stane, which reads, “I have sat two nights and so learnt patience” in Persian calligraphy. The rock contains other markings that date to the 18th and 19th-centuries. 

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