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The side chambers

Picture Sigurd TowrieInside Maeshowe's main chamber, three side chambers are built into the centre of the walls facing the entrance.

The entrances to these chambers are in the middle of the main chamber's left, right and rear walls, about 80cm (31.5 in) from the ground.

A single large stone lies on the floor outside each of the cells (picture right). These are thought to have once been used to seal the side chambers.

Although there is no doubt that Maeshowe was once a burial chamber, when the tomb was originally investigated in 1861, the side chambers only contained a single fragment of a human skull and some horse bones.

At the time, however, some strange reports of discoveries in the tomb made it into the local press.

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