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King Orry’s Grave, Laxey, Lonan

Period: Neolithic

NGR Easting: 243870

NGR Northing: 484380

Description: Neolithic chambered tomb. King Orry’s Grave is one of perhaps ten Neolithic chambered tombs that are known on the Island. Despite its name, which is an invention of local folklore, the tomb was begun as much as 5,000 years ago, and comprises two separate chambered monuments. It is a rare example in the British Isles of two such tombs built in such close proximity that they have become confused as one. The two tombs were probably constructed several hundred years apart.

The westerly tomb comprises two rectangular chambers built using massive slabs of local stone which may have been collected from several miles around. The original construction involved the chamber nearer the house, but a second chamber was later built and a forecourt added at the end furthest to the south-west which took the form of a shallow horseshoe overlooking the nearby gully and the main Laxey valley. Only one tall stone and the stumps of several others survive to indicate how these standing stones held back a cairn of rubble which was built up over the burial chambers. The early part of the structure is comparable with Cotwold tombs, whilst the forecourt is reminiscent of tombs in south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The easterly tomb, which faces north-east, consists of a segmented chamber of at least three compartments covered by a trapezoidal-shaped cairn with a deep U-shaped forecourt and a façade of impressive slabs linked by dry-stone walling and two fine portal stones. It is possible that the chamber extended further, but has been cut away by the construction of a road and a house during the 19th century. The portal is now blocked by a stone which may have fallen or been deliberately placed in front. The entire forecourt is also closed off by a line of stones placed between the tips of the horns, but it is not entirely clear if this is a deliberate act of closure during prehistoric times or a more recent structure associated with agricultural activity in the area in modern times.

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Site & Monument Type: standing stone

Category: National Monuments Record: Statutory Ancient Monuments

Site ID number: 1071.00

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