Maeshowe, Orkahaugr – The names of Orkney’s great burial mound as nodes in a heteroglossic web of meaning-making

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Situated on a central thoroughfare on the Orkney Mainland, and in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Area, is the c. 5000-year-old burial mound now known by the name of Maeshowe. In the Orkneyinga Saga, however, and in a runic inscription in the mound itself, the mound has another name: Orkahaugr, or Orkhaugr.

The aim here is to discuss these names focusing on reception and interpretation, asking which stories have been told about these names from the Middle Ages to the present, and what these stories can tell us regarding how those who heard and told them understood the mound: Its exterior and, perhaps more importantly, its interior, contents and meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat is North?
Subtitle of host publication Imagining the North from Ancient Times to the Present Day
EditorsOisin Plumb
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-503-58503-1
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-58502-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020
EventThe third St Magnus conference: Visualising the North - Orkney
Duration: 14 Apr 201616 Apr 2016

Publication series

NameThe North Atlantic World


ConferenceThe third St Magnus conference


  • Maeshowe
  • Folklore
  • Onomastics
  • Placenames
  • Storytelling
  • Bakhtin
  • Norse
  • Norse Orkney


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