Historic Environment Scotland marked this year’s Winter Solstice with a special film.
They showcased a new online film exploring the connection between the globally renowned Maeshowe Neolithic chambered tomb on Orkney and the annual celebration which traditionally marks the onset of winter and the year’s shortest day.
Presented by HES Orkney Ranger, Sandra Miller, and featuring a range of experts and local people inspired by the Solstice and Maeshowe’s connection to it, the online film was the centrepiece of celebrations marking this year’s event.
Maeshowe’s longstanding connection to the Winter Solstice stems from the natural phenomenon of the setting midwinter sun shining directly down the passageway from the site’s entrance and illuminating the back wall of the tomb with beautiful, bright light. This is captured in the film.
The special online event also featured the premiere of a new poem inspired by the Solstice and created by Alison Miller, the Orkney Scriever; while local storyteller Tom Muir presented a short story centred on Orcadian folklore and the Solstice.
The celebrations also featured Orcadian artist, Louise Barrington, who worked with the local primary school in Stenness, where Maeshowe is situated, to create artwork inspired by the ancient tomb. The work here is linked to the concept of light and dark and features in an exhibition at Maeshowe Visitor Centre which will be on show until February 2022. Admission to the exhibition is free.
Commenting on the new film and this year’s Solstice celebration, Sian Evans, Regional Visitor Operations Manager for HES in Orkney said: ‘The Winter Solstice has a special place in Orkney and of course traditionally marks the beginning of winter and the coming of darkness.
‘Maeshowe has always played a special part in that tradition through the spectacular light show that is visible on clear days as the sun sets overhead, and this wonderful new film offers viewers a unique insight into that connection, as well as highlighting what is one of the most fascinating heritage sites in the world.
‘We are really looking forward to sharing this film and to giving people the chance to see and enjoy the magic of Maeshowe and the Winter Solstice from the comfort of their own homes; hopefully inspiring them to enjoy our wider Orkney heritage and rich history.’