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An archaeology student has made an incredible discovery within the architecture of the 5000-year-old Maeshowe burial chamber on mainland Orkney. Source: Mo_Ali / Adobe Stock

Functioning Portal To The Otherworld Discovered at Maeshowe

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Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave situated on mainland  Orkney, the world-renowned, ancient monument-peppered archipelago located off the north east coast of Scotland. Constructed by Neolithic engineers around 2800 BC, this famous astronomically-aligned scheduled monument is a part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a group of sites, including the Neolithic village  Skara Brae , that were designated a  UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

According to archaeologist Stuart Piggott in his 1954 book  Neolithic Cultures of the British Isles, Maeshowe is “a superlative monument”. One of the earliest examples of a monument being orientated so that the last light of the setting winter solstice sun shines along its passage, it has been described as the “height of Neolithic engineering”. But now, a new research paper by Jay van der Reijden, a Masters by Research student at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute , has made a topsy-turvy discovery within the architecture of the 5000-year-old Maeshowe burial chamber which would make it a truly unique monument.

Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave on Stenness, Orkney. (Jay van der Reijden / University of the Highlands and Islands)

Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave on Stenness, Orkney. (Jay van der Reijden / University of the Highlands and Islands )

Measuring Up Otherworldly Sacred Geometry

The archaeology student has studied the geometry, shape and design of the 5000-year-old structure and demonstrates how the side chambers inside Maeshowe were designed “upside-down” compared to the stylization featured in the main, or central, chamber. According to the student, this suggests that the side chambers were built as “inverted netherworlds,” specifically designed as conduits for the souls or spirits of the dead to journey to the afterlife.

The new findings have been published today (4 September 2020) in the journal Archaeological Review . The paper includes a detailed study of the ancient death chamber’s orientation, revealing the design differences between the central and side chambers. The student suggests visitors to this world class ancient monument on Orkney try to visualize the wall-stones as being like wallpaper: When you repeatedly hang them “upside down”, in certain locations, patterns emerge from the chamber and themes become discernible.

Cross-sections of the Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave known as Maeshowe on Orkney. (Fantoman400 / CC BY-SA 3.0). On the right: Maeshowe on Orkney, soon after opening in 1861. (Fantoman400 / CC BY-SA 3.0)

On the left: Cross-sections of the Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave known as Maeshowe on Orkney. ( Fantoman400 / CC BY-SA 3.0). On the right: Maeshowe on Orkney, soon after opening in 1861. (Fantoman400 / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

A Vessel of the Topsy-Turvy Nether Regions

Accounting for these design reversals observed in the side chambers at Maeshowe, the archaeology student explains that they were “built to be within the netherworld,” and that the thick slabs forming the main chamber walls “acted as membranes, separating this life and the next.” Furthermore, the internal walling material is conceived to “physically represent the underworld.”

The researcher concludes that these design “swaps” include the reversal of multiple architectural features which are normally placed on the right-hand side. Meanwhile, in the side chambers of Maeshowe they are situated on the left. She goes on to explain that this was because Neolithic people in Orkney perceived the underworld as a reversed projection of the here and now: just as they saw when looking at their own reflections in rock pools. 

Maeshowe from the air. (Scotswiki)

Maeshowe from the air. ( Scotswiki)

Neolithic and Viking Otherworlds Unite

This discovery comes only two days after I wrote a news article for Ancient Origins about the discovery of a left-handed Viking warrior and his sword in Norway. Dr. Raymond Sauvage, an archaeologist at the  NTNU University Museum  and project manager for the Viking warrior’s excavation, told  Science Norway that the swords were laid contrary to the side they were worn in everyday life, because early Norse cultures also believed everything in the afterlife “was reversed,” in comparison to the here and now.

Returning to Maeshowe, while this burial chamber was built in the Neolithic, in the Viking era it was raided by Norse treasure hunters who left graffiti, including a carefully carved dragon. Perhaps the Viking looters, like the student Jay van der Reijden, also noticed the upside down geometric arrangement in the side chambers. If so, this would account for why they used the structure for rituals and Nordic rites concerning the soul’s voyage to the netherworlds.

Maeshowe Chambered Cairn - Maeshowe is the finest chambered tomb in north-west Europe and more than 5000 years old. (© Russel Wills / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Maeshowe Chambered Cairn - Maeshowe is the finest chambered tomb in north-west Europe and more than 5000 years old. (© Russel Wills / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Almost a century has passed since Professor Gordon Van Childe explored the ancient stone monuments of Orkney. Hundreds of archaeology professionals have been working on the islands since the 2003 discovery of a “Neolithic Cathedral” at the Ness of Brodgar , between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. This considered, isn’t it just fantastic, and so encouraging for the future of archaeology on this unique island group, that it was a student who saw what no-one else had noticed?

Van der Reijden has discovered is that Maeshowe was not just a stage, or backdrop, for ancient death rituals, but it was a functional portal to the otherworld where the scales, ratios and proportions of ancient architecture didn’t just represent, but “were” the underworld. 

Top image: An archaeology student has made an incredible discovery within the architecture of the 5000-year-old Maeshowe burial chamber on mainland Orkney. Source: Mo_Ali / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

Comments

Hello Ed,

This article is exciting thank you for sharing this piece.

All I can say about portals to other World's there is confirmation in The Book of Job Chapters 1 & 2, both sacred chapter's makes known of A Meeting in Heaven with God and the Son's of God.

These Son's of God were representatives of various World's and Universes God appointed them Over ( oh it's interesting too note Job lived during the Time of Abraham so this is in The Genesis/Jubilees Timeline).

Had it not been for what Adam and Eve did in Eden Adam was suppose to have represented Earth.

Adam and Eve failed this is why Satan invited Himself to those Two Meetings with God; and claimed to Represent Earth.

The funny thing each time Satan shows up to those meetings God asks Him Where Do You Come From?

God's way of saying Who invited you?

So that's all I know of Portals to other World's is from Job.

I hadn't realize till I began reading articles from Ancient Origins that monuments and structures engineered by our own Ancestors were believed to take them through those Portals to those other World's.

Then I got my hands on The Books of Enoch, Jubilees, and Banned Ezra ( happily I went on Ytube and listened to The Banned Bible Book Ezra it was Awesome.

The Sacred Text reminded me of two Christian Songs one by Rich Mullins Awesome God the other God is in Control.

Until next time Ed Goodbye!

Thanks Ed, for a good article, again. Some years ago I visited Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales, and in the other Hebrides, Dun Carloway, on the Isle of Lewis, really beautiful. Those are living proof our ancestors were not savages in animal skin, or Berserkers,… To align the passage in a Cairn with the solstices is an achievement, which could not be done in just one generation, even so, knowledge on the seasons will take centuries, if not a millennium. One might conclude history goes back much deeper and longer. Some people discard history as insignificant, and like to marginalise it to the extremes. We should not take our current society for granted, and understand if you loose it, getting back to prosperity will take the same amount of time..

And to Pete Wagner, don’t you have to tear down a statue or monument which you disagree with ??

Pete Wagner's picture

Most of these so-called cairns seem to be later reconstructions, and sloppy ones at that.  No, you go to all that work to cut and move stone, you create exquisite architecture for communal living.  What we see today looks more like stacked rubble.  And you obviously wouldn’t bury bodies in them, despite finding bones in the rubble.  

Nobody gets paid to tell the truth.

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