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<b>Orkney</b>Posted by OapostropheBrienSkara Brae © John O'Brien
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Mystery Structure Found Under Neolithic Dump
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
23rd August 2016ce

Fossiled Dung Clue To Secret Lives Of 'Pets' In The Iron Age
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
16th July 2016ce
Edited 16th July 2016ce

Two Finds in One at Harray Chamber

From the Orcadian:

"A prehistoric underground structure has been rediscovered in Harray – rediscovered in that the archaeologists found it to be full of Victorian rubbish!

But although it had obviously been opened, entered and used in the 19th century, the chamber appears to have gone unrecorded... continues...
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
6th May 2016ce

Riddle of the red deer: Orkney deer arrived by Neolithic ship, study reveals

Research has found that red deer were brought to the Scottish islands by humans, but the question remains: where did the Neolithic colonists come from?

The riddle of the red deer of Orkney and the Outer Hebrides has just become even more baffling... continues...
baza Posted by baza
6th April 2016ce
Edited 6th April 2016ce

Ancient grave found in Orkney

Archaeologists have been excavating the site of a child's grave on an Orkney island.

The grave - which it is believed could be up to 4,000 years old - was uncovered on Sanday's shoreline by winter storms and high tides.

It is thought the skeleton could be that of a child aged between 10 and 12... continues...
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
15th February 2015ce

New project aims to protect Orkney monuments

Protection for the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney'

The impact of renewable energy projects on the world-famous Skara Brae monuments in Orkney is being researched as part of a new management plan aimed at protecting the site... continues...
moss Posted by moss
7th May 2014ce

Science: Orkney – hot spot of the Stone Age

Evidence shows that Britain’s megalithic monuments started on these islands about 5,200 years ago, along with new styles of architecture and pottery

The Orkney Islands, off Scotland’s north coast, are famous for their wealth of Stone Age monuments... continues...
moss Posted by moss
11th January 2014ce

another Crantit ?

The Warebeth area of Stromness parish has its history pushed back into the Neolithic, my suspicions about a knoll in the feld right of the road coming down to the cemetery/broch proved right. In this natural mound archaeologist potter Andrew Appleby has found the remains of a tomb, a situation resembling that of Crantit (thanks to the farmer this will remain undug for future generations).
wideford Posted by wideford
22nd November 2012ce
Edited 24th November 2012ce

Painting A Picture Of Scapa Flow, 10,000 Years Ago

A map of how Orkney looked 10,000 years ago is beginning to paint a picture of how the islands appeared to the first settlers who came here at the end of the last Ice Age.

More info :
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
18th May 2012ce

'Orkney Held Me Close' Exhibition by Nicki MacRae.

Because she's too modest to post it herself... ;)

"‘Orkney Held Me Close’ is an exhibition of work created following my stay on Orkney in February 2011... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
9th February 2012ce

Flint axe found on Orkney shore predates the Ice Age

"A flint axe, recovered on a stretch of shore in St Ola, looks like being the oldest man-made artefact found in Orkney to date.

Dating from the Palaeolithic period of prehistory, the axe could therefore be anything between 100,000 and 450,000 years old."

Full story: continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
26th May 2011ce

Orkney Sites Scanned In 3D

Laser scanners are being displayed in Orkney to record some of the island's historical land marks.

More info :
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
21st March 2011ce

Multiple burials at Orkney Neolithic site.
strathspey Posted by strathspey
2nd December 2010ce

Colin Renfrew lecture this Saturday

September 18th in Kirkwall Rown Hall
wideford Posted by wideford
16th September 2010ce

Neolithic Orkney sites scanned in 3D

Laser scanners are being deployed in Orkney to record details of some of the island's key historical landmarks.

A team from Glasgow School of Art and Historic Scotland will scan the chambered tomb of Maeshowe, the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae settlement... continues...
moss Posted by moss
18th August 2010ce
Edited 18th August 2010ce

Orkney's archaeological treasures

Well the new top destination tourist place according to The Telegraph. Skara Brae and The Flintstones for goodness sake!

Scotland's Orkney Islands provide a rare glimpse of Stone Age life, says Paul Humphreys...

Many archaeological sites are baffling to the layman... continues...
moss Posted by moss
10th August 2010ce

The curious case of the Cairns 'broch'

It's definitely broch-like but is it a broch?

That's the question still facing the archaeologists at the ongoing excavations at the Cairns in South Ronaldsay.

Overlooking Windwick Bay, the Cairns is a massive archaeological jigsaw puzzle, with a sequence of Iron Age buildings, representing centuries of use... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
15th July 2010ce

Untangling the history of the Cantick mound

Another season of excavations at Cantick, South Walls, concluded last week, following the continued investigation of a prehistoric burial mound.

A team from ORCA (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology) based at Orkney College were joined by students from Aberdeen and Durham Universities... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
14th July 2010ce

Orkney's archaeological 'treasures trail' in the national spotlight

Archaeological Treasures Trail - Orkney

Orkney is one of the richest Neolithic landscapes in Europe - a place of stone circles, villages and burial monuments... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
8th June 2010ce
Edited 8th June 2010ce

Archaeological papers in Honour of Daphne Home Lorimer MBE — now relocated to Orkneyjar.

These pictures and papers have been gathered in honour of Daphne Home Lorimer MBE on the occasion of her retirement as Chairman of Orkney Archaeological Trust, to mark our affection for her as a friend, our respect for her as a colleague and our admiration for all that she has achieved... continues...
goffik Posted by goffik
4th June 2010ce

funding for underwater archaeology

Orkneyjar's report here - much clearer pics than "The Orcadian".
As the only other NMRS for Damsay is a site the excavator thought to be a Norse castle but is now believed to have been a broch it is probable that the orthostats in one photo could relate to this... continues...
wideford Posted by wideford
9th March 2010ce

Submerged Structures Could Draw Tourists

Experts Predict Boom After Finding Archaeology Swallowed By Rising Tides

by Ryan Crighton Published 26/02/2010.

Ancient structures submerged by the tides thousands of years ago could bring a fresh tourism boom to Orkney, experts predicted last night.

More at:

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
26th February 2010ce

OIC funded projects 2010

from Sigurd Towrie
wideford Posted by wideford
17th February 2010ce

Pre-historic Stone Structures Found Underwater

Discovery of man-made structures on the seabed off Orkney - the well preserved structures are near the island of Damsay and some of the structures may date back thousands of years.

One structure found was a stone "table" with 4 legs.
mascot Posted by mascot
17th December 2009ce

Neolithic 'temple' revealed at site on Orkney continues...
Posted by Paddybhoy
14th August 2009ce
Edited 17th August 2009ce

Rising seas could spell doom for Orkney islands

By David Leask

ITS beaches are as stunning as any in the Maldives – even if its weather isn't.

Yet if the Orkney island of Sanday is very far from the Indian Ocean idyll, it looks set to share the same fate, as sea levels rise and storms become fiercer and more frequent... continues...
moss Posted by moss
31st May 2009ce

Second week of Corrigall earthhouse

no pic of rock art yet but
wideford Posted by wideford
26th May 2007ce
Edited 26th May 2007ce

A new Orkney souterrain in pressure dig

Another souterrain has come to light in Harray (see Dale) in ploughing a field for barley . Historic Scotland has given a 3 week grant for its excavation, no visitors allowed. With it a hole in the same field reminiscent of that found by the South Keigar earthhouse in Deerness, Orkney.
wideford Posted by wideford
15th May 2007ce
Edited 26th May 2007ce

End of 2006 Ness of Brodgar dig

Peninsula man-made for 2-4 metres down, chambered tomb/s, decorated cist lid etc. etc. with pics
wideford Posted by wideford
31st August 2006ce
Edited 1st September 2006ce

Bronze Age axe head found

Radio Orkney reports that a socketed bronze axe-head was found a few months ago whilst digging in the Highland Park peats in the Hobbister area of Orphir. This LBA artefact is [believed to be] the first of its kind from Orkney.
Story and pics
wideford Posted by wideford
30th June 2006ce
Edited 5th July 2006ce

Neolithic finds in Wyre

From Radio Orkney this morning ; a just completed survey (jointly funded by the Flaws family and the O.I.C.) of the island of Wyre [Weir/Veira] found five mace-head fragments and also miniature soft stone axes in a field, made from non-local stone (Hebrides suggested as source).
wideford Posted by wideford
29th May 2006ce
Edited 23rd June 2006ce

Neolithic mound confirmed

Radio Orkney's monthly "Orkology" last night had a report on a small-scale dig at the Ness of Brodgar to ascertain the cause of slip observed recently by the farmer at this feature... continues...
wideford Posted by wideford
24th February 2006ce
Edited 24th February 2006ce

Ramberry Cairn

Work finished today on what was left of a presumed chambered cairn (HY42401383) on Quanter Ness, only a little further coastward than the Crossiecrown settlement... continues...
wideford Posted by wideford
13th May 2005ce
Edited 24th May 2005ce

Mesolithic Orkney Settled?

On Radio Orkney it was announced that a student who had been doing research around the Bay of Firth with no success found a large amount of flints when turning their attention instead to a field by the Loch of Stenness (following up on a tip given to them as a result of Colin Richard's fieldwalking)... continues...
wideford Posted by wideford
10th May 2005ce
Edited 11th May 2005ce

After centuries of anectodes, prehistoric Orkney forest confirmed

The existence of a 6,500-year-old forest in Sanday has been confirmed.

Full Text
Posted by Orkneyjar
10th September 2004ce

Death, burial and metalworking at Westray's Knowe o' Skea

An update on the 2004 excavations on this enigmatic Iron Age cemetery.

Full Text
Posted by Orkneyjar
10th September 2004ce

Was Iron Age Orkney the centre of a vast north warrior province?

Iron Age Orkney was the centre of a vast province, ruled over by a chieftain who co-ordinated a massive programme of defensive brochs to counter a threat from the south. This is the conclusion of Shetland archivist Brian Smith.

Full Text
Posted by Orkneyjar
10th September 2004ce
Edited 12th September 2004ce

Divers confirm presence of two more Orkney crannogs

Orkney's first underwater archaeological investigation concludes two islets are definitely crannogs.

Full story
Posted by Orkneyjar
10th September 2004ce
Edited 10th September 2004ce

Traces of prehistoric homes open door on early man

An article by David Hartley from The Scotsman:

They were the first people to live in Scotland, nomads who left little trace of their day-to-day lives. But the first evidence that early man built homes as far north as Orkney up to 10,000 years ago appears to have been uncovered by archaeologists... continues...
Posted by BrigantesNation
6th September 2004ce
Edited 6th September 2004ce

New dig at site of Skaill Viking Hoard

The mound of Snusgar in Sandwick is the site of a new excavation focusing on the history of human settlement around the Bay o' Skaill.

See Orkneyjar for full details
Posted by Orkneyjar
12th August 2004ce
Edited 12th August 2004ce

Archaeologists' delight at Minehowe burial

A rare Iron Age burial is causing great excitement among the experts working at Minehowe — and as usual has raised more questions about life around the Iron Age site.

Archaeologists returned to the Tankerness site last week and by Monday had discovered a complete human skeleton buried in the floor of the metalworking structure outside Minehowe's circular ditch.

See Orkneyjar for full details
Posted by Orkneyjar
12th August 2004ce

Orkney's prehistoric secrets unearthed

From The Scottish Herald, 1 July 2004
Archaeologists have found the remains of a prehistoric village on Orkney, which has already unlocked secrets of the island's life, beliefs and rituals... continues...
Jane Posted by Jane
1st July 2004ce
Edited 1st July 2004ce

Exploratory dig confirms existence of Brodgar Neolithic village

Centuries-old conceptions about the Ness of Brodgar - the thin strip of land between the Harray and Stenness lochs - look set to be turned on their heads following a series of exploratory excavations on the south-west of the ness... continues...
Posted by Orkneyjar
18th June 2004ce
Edited 18th June 2004ce

Underwater Islands Add to the Mystery of Orkney

By Stephen Stewart, May 10 2004

Archaeologists have re-discovered a lost chapter in Orkney's history which will develop the understanding of mysterious ancient monuments found across Scotland.
Underwater researchers are examining small, artificial islands in Orkney's inland waters, which have lain undiscovered for generations... continues...
Jane Posted by Jane
10th May 2004ce
Edited 10th May 2004ce

Kist Unearthed While Ploughing in Orkney

An Orcadian farmer has unearthed on his land at Howe Farm in Harray (Orkney, Scotland) what is believed to be a Bronze Age burial kist. Despite kists being quite common in Orkney, Historic Scotland called in AOC Archaeology from Edinburgh to carry out the excavation at the end of last week... continues...
Kozmik_Ken Posted by Kozmik_Ken
30th March 2004ce
Edited 30th March 2004ce

Ongoing geophysics project continues to reveal secrets of Brodgar

The latest set of geophysics scans on the Ness o' Brodgar continue to shed light on the Ring o' Brodgar and the landscape around it - in particular another massive settlement discovered immediately to the north of the stone circle.

Full story at:
Posted by Orkneyjar
20th February 2004ce

Heddle Quarry Decision Deferred

A decision on the application to extend works at the Heddle Quarry in Firth has been deferred.

Members at this morning's Orkney Islands Council planning committee meeting agreed to defer the decision for more detailed geological and environmental reports.
Posted by Orkneyjar
10th February 2004ce
Edited 10th February 2004ce

Quarrying in Orkney World Heritage Site

Where next????

World heritage site faces quarry threat - John Ross, The Scotsman continues...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd January 2004ce
Edited 23rd January 2004ce

"Brogar" No More - and Farewell to "Maes Howe"

Historic Scotland are to start referring to two of Orkney's best known monuments by their rightful Orcadian names.

The government agency are to stop using the name "Ring of Brogar" when referring to the Ring o' Brodgar in Orkney's West Mainland... continues...
Posted by Orkneyjar
16th January 2004ce
Edited 16th January 2004ce

Tourists Declared "No Threat" to Maeshowe

Increasing visitor numbers is not having a detrimental effect on one of Orkney's top visitor attractions, according to initial findings.

State-of-the-art technology was brought in by Historic Scotland scientists concerned for the future of Maeshowe and Skara Brae... continues...
Posted by Orkneyjar
16th January 2004ce
Edited 16th January 2004ce

Was Orkney The Ceremonial Capital Of Ancient Britain?

Orkney may have been the largest prehistoric settlement or ceremonial site in Britain, new research reveals today.

Archaeologists using the latest techniques to map under the soil discovered the world heritage site covering the Ness of Brodgar in Stenness, was a massive centre of activity in Stone Age times... continues...
Jane Posted by Jane
3rd November 2003ce
Edited 16th January 2004ce

Geophysics Surveys of Brodgar Penisnula

Source: Orkneyjar Archaeology News (24 October 2004)

For centuries scholars and antiquarians have had their own theories over the activities that once took place in Orkney's World Heritage Site covering the Ness of Brodgar in Stenness... continues...
Kozmik_Ken Posted by Kozmik_Ken
27th October 2003ce
Edited 27th October 2003ce

Neolithic Structures unearthed at Brodgar

Forwarded for info:

From: Sigurd Towrie
Subject: Neolithic Structures unearthed at Brodgar

A suspected Neolithic house on the Ness of Brodgar in Stenness was uncovered at the weekend but subsequently reburied... continues...
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
8th April 2003ce

Woodland plans for the Northern Isles

Orkney and Shetland, Scotland’s northern outposts, have become famous for their unrestricted vistas of land, sea and sky.

Now centuries of history and natural forces are to be defied... continues...
IronMan Posted by IronMan
2nd March 2003ce

The Comet Stone

From the Stones Mailing List, another interesting revelation - posted to the list by Sigurd Towie, whose excellent site Heritage of Orkney should not be missed... continues...
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
19th December 2002ce
Edited 19th December 2002ce

Prone stones found by Stenness Loch

From the Stones Mailing List, some interesting discoveries - posted to the list by Sigurd Towie, whose excellent site is mentioned elsewhere here... continues...
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
19th December 2002ce
Edited 19th December 2002ce


Add folklore Add folklore
A Jar of Honey
by George Mackay Brown

A woman came from every house that morning to the croft of Scar. Slowly, like holy women, they moved through the fields. Seven men stood at the end of the byre of Scar: five young men, an old man, a boy. The oat fields were yellow, gulls dipped and squabbled over the mackerel in the bay. The men stood outside the ceremony, unwanted and useless. One of the young men shared the holy look of the women, but he too was outside their ceremony. The other men did not have a thing to say to him. They kept turning away from him. He stood there in a double isolation. A woman with huge hands and a face like stone crossed the fields, Bella of Windbeck. She walked slowly, by herself. The door of Scar opened and shut on this priestess. Now it was noon. The men at the end of the byre smoked their pipes, all but the lonely one. Once the boy chased a butterfly with a shout but the old man checked him and the boy sat down at a fissure in the wall, watching bees oozing in and out. A girl, an acolyte, crossed over to the burn from Scar for water. With a pure white look on her she passed the men and returned, silent and intent, a heavy brimming pail at each side of her. Another woman came out for peats, her arms red from the flame. The sun dragged through the afternoon like an ox through furrows. Suddenly the water girl stood in the open door of Scar, her arms wild circles. 'Simon!' she cried. 'Come now.' The young man turned his burnished face to the house. He wouldn't move. He was afraid of the elemental women inside there, with their water and fire, the terrible priestess and her servers, swaddlers, shrouders, guardians of the gate of birth and the gate of death. He couldn't move. The other young men were laughing all around him now. They laid earth-coloured hands on him. They buffered him gently. They turned his face towards the open door. Two of them walked with him, one at each side, to the threshold. He went inside alone. The boy sat at the end of the wall, gray wax at his mouth, his fingers threaded with honey. The old man knocked out his pipe, spat, lifted six creels from the wall, and slowly walked down to the boats.
A young man lifted scythe from the end of the barn. He began to whet it on a red stone.
The gate of life had been opened.
Between that and the dark gate where the fish and the fleece and the loaf, the oil jars and the jars of salt and the jars of grain, and the one small jar of honey.
tjj Posted by tjj
12th November 2010ce

Here in Orkney there are/were quite a few of what Gregor Lamb terms finger stones. These were generally thrown by giants. In Eday there was one above Farahouse. Rousay had one where folk would lay a stone in passing. The Finger Steen or Byasteen is, or was, on a cliff near Wasbister shore. On Mainland, in Evie, is one of Cubbie Roo's failed shots on Hoy. Cubbie Roo's Stone in the Dale of Woodwick had several holes caused by his fingers. Also called Cobbie or Cubbie Roo's Stone, it is shown on the 1882 map at HY36712306, between South Kews and the Styes of Aikerness mound (but to their east). In Stenness a huge broken up stone near Breckan /Millquoy was thrown by Hugboy from Hoy. Another put from Hoy again dropped short, landing at Ruff/Gruf Hill in Orphir - the Giant's Stone had the mark of his thumbprint. Over in Firth near main road north of Redland Farm, on the north side of Brae of Muckquoy, a pair of stones thrown from Gairsay to Estaben landed. One was triangular ~6'x2'x9" and the other 4'x4'x2', the with 'fingermarks' being on the latter. In Sanday a stone with the devil's fingermarks is built into Lady parish church.

They didn't always leave their idents behind. A natural boulder called the Giant's Stone, 8' x 6' x 2½', was thrown from the standing stone of Stembister (HY50SW 6 at HY54130239, moved to there from the fast-eroding cliff-edge) in St.Andrew's parish. It landed on the very edge of Copinsay, at the highest point of the cliffs around that island a few yards from brink. Over in Rousay Cubbierow/ Kubbie Row's Stone/ Cubbie Roo's Stone was thrown from Fitty Hill on Westray to Lyra in the region of Frotoft, somewhere above Mt. Pleasant but below Keirfea hill. Which is still a large area to search. On Shapinsay Mor Stein/ Mör Steen (HY51NW 1 at HY52401685), thrown from Mull Head in Deerness, was called the Moow Stane after a giant who left his imprint.

On holier ground, down at the end of South Ronaldsay there is the Ladykirk Stone, first ascribed to a monster turned to stone for saving an anonymous Gallus 'priest' after a shipwreck. Only sometime before 1690 did it gain the name St.Magnus Boat, from a tale originally told of a standing stone (in the present-day only a pile of rubble) on the Scottish mainland called Sten Hone. The Ladykirk Stone's two 10" long 1" deep depressions are likelier feet than anything boat related. In 1701 the stone was either six foot by four or four by two, now this oval beach 'pebble' is 3'8" long by 2'10" long - so are we missing umnntioned salient detail since lost ? The worthy is said to have built the St.Mary church on an old temple - not the present kirk but a grassy mound on the banks of the now drained Loch of Burwick.

Associated with the Knights of Stove legend is the King's Stone in Sandwick. 3' 6" x 2' 3" it is said to have gained its name from what were described as carvings representing the word king. Originally in the meadows of Stove this was later incorporated into the foundation of a water mill which was then built into the corner of barn in same place. Alas, this is now harled over. In "Orcadiana" Gregor Lamb puts a case for the Faal Stane o'How being another king's stone. In Orkney the local legends chiefs were called kings e.g. the king of the Brough Borwick warred with the righ of Verran, Voyatown.
In Kirkwall there was formerly a White Stone opposite the pulpit in St.Magnus Cathedral where folk went to repent. If not some prehistoric artefact it must surely have been connected with the saint's cult in some way.
wideford Posted by wideford
9th October 2006ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
Orkney's Hurtiso Hood dates back to at least Iron Age and is the oldest complete garment found in the UK (near Groatster/Grotsetter in St Andrew's, though first report in 1863 stated "in the Holm district... in the moss off Hurtiso").
Orkney Herald :
May 23rd 1863 "One day last week... in the Holm district... in the moss off Hurtiso... exposed unexpectedly an ancient article of dress... This article was a short woolen cloak, finely adorned with fringes {?19} inches in length, and having a hood of the same material... This curious relic was found embedded in the moss at a depth of six feet, and under five solid layers of peat." Hurtiso Farm HY506105 is in East Holm, which presumably makes the moss the extensive Muir of Meil.
December 5th 1877 "in Mr Petrie's collection was a knitted woolen hood which was found in a moss in the parish of Kirkwall... which resembles in shape the old "trot cosy" of the last century... It had been done in bands, each with a seperate pattern, and round the edge is a fringe about twenty inches in depth."
May 18th 1881 "Skeleton found... while engaged in peat cutting in the hills between Birsay and Evie... The remains... that of a female of about twenty years of age. Some pieces of cloth, apparently used for wrapping the body, or part of the deceased's clothing... The strongest of the three pieces of cloth is of a peculiar woolen fabric... a close resemblance in texture and style to the hood found in a moss in the parish of St.Andrews upwards of 20 years ago.."
wideford Posted by wideford
21st October 2011ce
Edited 22nd October 2011ce

photo ID required if using Northlink Ferries or coming via Loganair (though a visitor found British Airways did not need this some of their routes use Loganair planes at times), so be warned using Scrabster-Stromness or Kirkwall Airport wideford Posted by wideford
17th February 2010ce

Sigurd's article on the Ahrensburgian flints from Stronsay great colour photo of these two primitive arrowheads wideford Posted by wideford
4th October 2007ce


Land of the whirlpool,—torrent,—foam,
Where oceans meet in madd'ning shock;
The beetling cliff,—the shelving holm,—
The dark insidious rock.
Land of the bleak,—the treeless moor,—
The sterile mountain, sered and riven,—
The shapeless cairn, the ruined tower,
Scathed by the bolts of heaven,—
The yawning gulf,—the treacherous sand,—
I love thee still, MY NATIVE LAND.

Land of the dark,—the Punic rhyme,—
The mystic ring,—the cavern hoar,—
The Scandinavian seer, sublime
In legendary lore.
Land of a thousand sea-kings' graves,—
Those tameless spirits of the past,
Fierce as their subject arctic waves,
Or hyperborean blast,—
Though polar billows round thee foam,
I love thee!—thou wert once my home.

With glowing heart and island lyre,
Ah! would some native bard arise,
To sing, with all a poet's fire,
Thy stern sublimities,—
The roaring flood,—the rushing stream,—
The promontory wild and bare,—
The pyramid, where sea-birds scream,
Aloft in middle air,—
The Druid temple on the heath,
Old even beyond tradition's birth.

Though I have roamed through verdant glades,
In cloudless climes, 'neath azure skies,
Or pluck'd from beauteous orient meads,
Flowers of celestial dies,—
Though I have laved in limpid streams,
That murmur over golden sands,
Or basked amid the fulgid beams
That flame o'er fairer lands,
Or stretched me in the sparry grot,—
My country! THOU wert ne'er forgot.

By David Vedder 'The sailor-poet of Orkney'

Taken from
The Voyage of the Betsey by Hugh Miller.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
15th July 2007ce

A word from your hard-working 19th century Orkney correspondent (whom you may feel some kindredship with and sympathy for):
In the winter of 1848 I undertook a survey of these antiquities, wishing to leave a permanent record of their present state and position, while they were yet in tolerable preservation: but, although a labour of love, it was not accomplished without much difficulty, principally owing to the uncertain state of the weather and the distance of the locality from my residence.

After a long ride, there was first to lay out the surveying poles, then shoulder my theodolite, and march from station to station through the most insinuatingly melting snow that I ever remember to have felt, often being obliged to leave my instrument and run for a quarter of a mile to gain a little warmth by the exertion.

It was, however, sometimes exceedingly romantic to hear the wild swans trumpeting to each other while standing under the lee of a gigantic stone, till a snow-squall from the north east had passed over; but, could I have attuned my soul to song in such a dreary situation, instead of raving with Macpherson, my strain would certainly have been something in praise "of the bonnie blythe blink o' my ain fireside."

Occasionally there is some fine weather even in this inhospitable climate; but I can only remember the many nights, dark, bleak, and cold, in which I have been urging my easy-going quadruped over that weary road while the snow fell into my eyes upon any attempt being made to look a-head.

At last, however, the survey was finished; with Mr. Robert Heddle, the dimensions and an outline figure of every stone in the Ring of Brogar was taken; and Mr. G. Petrie assisted me in measuring the diameters of the circles, trenches, &c. The General Plan was made by triangulating with staves, and a base measured by a land-chain on the level point of Stenness.
p97 in 'Account of some of the Celtic Antiquities of Orkney, including the Stones of Stenness, Tumuli, Picts-houses, &c., with Plans' by F W L Thomas.

Chapter 13 in: Archaeologia, Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity By the Society of Antiquaries of London (1851).

This can be read online courtesy of Google Books.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th January 2007ce
Edited 27th January 2007ce

In the Orkney Room there is a black box on a shelf in the far corner that contains the record cards for our NMRS up till the early 70's. This contains more information than online CANMORE as that in places only gives a bibliographical reference instead of actual quote. Some of the cards also include maps,sketches, plans, photos. Though these are all in reduced form only the photos can occasionally be unclear. The 1946 RCAMS Inventory is also here along with the standard work on Orkney's chambered cairns (not the most recent version) and Hedge's volume on our brochs (only detailed for those he accepts but very detailed for these). wideford Posted by wideford
12th November 2005ce
Edited 12th November 2005ce

A mention with details for three stones that aren't on Canmore.
"The Book of Orphir" mentions a Giant's Stone on Ruff Hill in Orphir, that had the mark of the thumbprint of the giant's failed put from Hoy. No stone is shown on the 1882 map for what is called Gruf Hill but it could be by the Scorradale road below this.
Another failed stone is another of Cubbie Roo's misses, this one on the mainland in Evie being a failed shot on Hoy. It has/had several holes caused by his fingers, according the Orkney Name books. Cobbie/Cubbie Roo's Stone is shown on the 1882 map at HY36712306, between (but to the east of) South Kews and the Styes of Aikerness mound. No stone shown on CANMAP.
Also not on CANMAP is the Stone of Whilcoe, marking the boundary of Birsay and Harray and Sandwick. The 1882 map shows it at HY29612803, the south side of the B9057 at the NE end of Dounby on the 1:25,000 of today. Must look for it - surely rather than a boundary stone where three parishes meet it is/was where they issued from ?
Other stones not on Canmore I know of are the Mark/March Stone of Gaitnip, the Mark Stone of Dalespot HY45690594 on the same St.Ola-Holm boundary, and a different Gray Stone along the Holm-Tankerness parish boundary at HY50150484 near Hamly Hill. Perhaps I missed a few more in the Orkney Name Books.
wideford Posted by wideford
26th September 2005ce
Edited 26th September 2005ce

Current Archaeology 199 has an Orkney special.
Even knowing the area it took a couple of minutes to get my bearings on the photo on the first page of the Mine Howe article. At it is almost the reverse of the map on the next page here goes :-
Two adjacent squares centre left are the present graveyard. Mine Howe is the first mound over the road in the field opposite the RH square. The large mound to the right of Mine Howe is Long Howe, with the Time Team reconstruction on the lesser end nearest Mine Howe. Right of that again Round Howe extends either side of the road at the bottom of the picture. The mounds of Brymer are opposite the road junction that is off the right of the photo. In the modern graveyard the gravedigger has found evidence of St.Ninian's Chapel. This used to be said to be on the hillside faintly visible in the field behind but this is now believed to be a settlement area (mediaeval farmstead mooted). The more obvious hillocks to thats left is Stem Howe. Near the back of the field from that glimsed next left, and therefore well off the photo, is Hawell burnt mound (there were originally two). The big farm near top centre is Breck. A beehive chamber (possibly more than one) came out of the stockyard and several thick-walled urns from nearby fields. From the left of Breck there are the remains of another burnt mound halfway along the curving boundary. The track from the road to the farm cuts through a hillock from where a line of erect stones proceeds to the left along the ridge. At the top left of the picture is Meickle/Little Crofty from whose area a cist came.

The last page of the same article refers to howe and knowe and too all being names for mounds. Of course opinions on which are natural and which man-made or altered change, 'Little Barnhouse' just roadside opposite the Standing Stones Hotel being a case in point. This applies to too/tuo names, often names later changed to tower. Some of these are obviously structures but the name is also applied to a natural knoll on the side of a hill. Erne Tuo on Mainland is one such - what you see today is a beacon on natural, and this is how it is officially recorded, but a little like 'Little Barnhouse' there is an early report of older ruins beneath this. Geophysics or excavation are often the only way to know for certain with lesser, and Orkney is much to rich in unexplored known archaeology for this to happen.
wideford Posted by wideford
20th August 2005ce
Edited 24th August 2005ce

Camden's report of an alternative derivation for the name Orkney:
"said by a certain old manuscript to be so called as if one should say Argat, that is (for so it is there explained) above the Getes, but I had rather expound it Above Cat, for it lies over against Cath, a country[sic] of Scotland"
wideford Posted by wideford
25th April 2005ce

The handwritten drafts of George Petrie are amongst the papers of Alfred W.Johnstone, specifically Orkney Archive GB241/21/2/8 wideford Posted by wideford
19th March 2005ce
Edited 24th September 2005ce

sites a nautical mile apart as determined in the 1920's by John Fraser, from the "Proceedings of the Society of Orkney Antiquaries" :


Upperbrough HY31361790 Marykirk (Russland) HY29511774
Nettletar HY32321741 Knowe of Bosquoy HY30931864
Marykirk (Russland) HY29511774 Knowe of Gullow HY30691629
Knowe of Bosquoy HY30931864 Burrian (Netherbrough) HY30821680


Holy Kirk HY24952163 Loch of Isbister Broch HY25722334
Sandwick Kirk HY23451987 centre of enclosure HY237217
Burrian (Wasbister) Lyking Chapel site HY27071505
Kirkness Chapel site HY28001878 Marykirk (Russland) HY29511774


Stanerandy Stones HY26742761 Curcum Chapel HY28412845
Makerhouse Knowe HY29352114 North Bigging Broch HY30802000
Brenda Knowe HY26612381&76 Forsakelda Knowe HY28302314
Knowe of Smirrus HY29142156 Wassam (Sandwick) HY28881538


Ke(i)thesgeo/Kethisquoy Stone site HY30351136 Maes Howe HY31821277


The Hillock HY361142 Loch of Wasdale HY34321473
Burness Broch HY38821557 Redland Broch HY37801715 site
Burrien Hill poss. Redland Broch HY37801715 site
Redland Chapel HY37151713 Settiscarth Chapel HY3719


Howana Gruna HY3366 2631 W of Broch of Burgar HY34802782 is Burgar Chambered Cairn aka Brough
Broch of Gurness HY382268 Redland Standing Stone/s HY38012502


Upperbrough is NMRS Harray Churchyard
Burrian (Netherbrough) is NMRS Knowe of Burrian/ Garth
Sandwick Kirk is NMRS St. Peter's Kirk
centre of enclosure is NMRS Vestrafiold Enclosure
Curcum Chapel is NMRS Abune-the-Hill Chapel
Wassam is Burrian Broch (Sandwick)
W of Broch of Burgar is NMRS Burgar Chambered Cairn aka Brough
Redland Standing Stones is now NMRS Redland North Chambered Tomb

Redland Broch a.k.a. Steeringlo/Stirlinglo
Settiscarth Chapel is a.k.a. Kirk o'Cott

Makerhouse is a burnt mound as are also the Brenda Knowe(s).
Knowe of Smirrus/Smirrans/Smirrens is a barrow.
wideford Posted by wideford
17th September 2004ce
Edited 12th August 2010ce

Alignments noted in the 1920's by John Fraser in the "Proceedings of the Society of Orkney Antiquaries" :


Knowe of Bosquoy HY30931864 Quoys of the Hill HY31832031 is Nether Corston (a Johnsmas bonfire used to be held below this)

Marykirk (Grimeston) HY31091426 Staney Hill Stone HY31951567


Marykirk (Russland) HY29511774 Quoys of the Hill HY31832031 is Nether Corston

Barnhouse Stone HY31271217 Maes Howe HY31821277


Burrian (Russland) HY29641835 Quoys of the Hill HY31832031 is Nether Corston

Staney Hill Stone HY31951567 Appiehouse Stone HY32621620


Cummina Howe HY28241039 Knowe of Onston HY28291172 Ring of Bookan HY28341450

Ke(i)thesgeo Stone HY30351136 HY30551263 Watch Stone

Stones of Stenness HY30671252 HY31091426 Marykirk (Grimeston)

Barnhouse Stone HY31271217 HY31361790 Harray Churchyard

Howen Brough HY31801914 HY31832031 Quoys of the Hill is Nether Corston
Nettletar HY32321741 HY31832031 Quoys of the Hill is Nether Corston
Burrian (Corrigall) HY32351937 HY31832031 Quoys of the Hill is Nether Corston

(The Kethesgeo Stone was found, still in its socket, five feet below ground level)


Ring of Brodgar centre HY29451335 Maes Howe HY31821277

Burrian (Russland) HY29641835 Harray Churchyard HY31361790


Ring of Brodgar centre HY29451335 Watch Stone HY30551263 Barnhouse Stone HY31271217
wideford Posted by wideford
16th September 2004ce
Edited 12th August 2010ce

Interesting alignments taken from "Lines on The Landscape, Circles from The Sky" by Trevor Garnham :-

Ring of Brodgar (HY294134) to the Staney Hill Stone (HY31951567) to a broken stone reported in an old antiquarian's report at Applehouse Farm (presumably the same as the Applehouse Stone HY32621620 that I failed to find). Centre of Ring of Brodgar to Watch Stone (HY30551264) to Barnhouse Stone (HY31271217), centre of Ring of Brodgar to Comet Stone (HY29031331) ending at Maes Howe (HY318127).
Maes Howe (HY318127) to Stones of Stenness (HY307125) then Deepdale Stones (HY27171171 and 27181116, presumably the former as he declares the broad side to face Unstan). 'The' Deepdale Stone (HY27171171) faces off to Unstan Cairn (HY282117) like the Stone of Setter (HY56453718) does to the Braeside Cairn (HY563375) entrance passage.
He says that perhaps Unstan Cairn (HY282117) started out as a tripartite cairn and later became the present stalled one. The modified entrance passage points to the Watch Stone (HY30551264) and on to House 2 at Barnhouse (HY306124 or 6). The porch of Barnhouse 8 (HY306124 or 6) then Stones of Stenness (HY307125) to the Staney Hill Stone (HY31951567).
Wideford Hill Cairn (HY409121) to Cuween Hill Cairn (HY363127) to what he refers to as a pair of hills but from the map this is an illusory pairing, either two hills at different distances or perhaps a notch in the Hill of Heddle.
Taversoe Tuick Cairn (HY425276) lower passage to Gairsay Cairn (HY441223, a turf-covered cairn about 12mD and 1.8m high). Eday Church Cairn (HY560334) to Holm of Huip Cairn (HY268312, possibly chambered : NMRS reports there are 5 short stretches of wall with no apparent shape and 2 earth-fast stones 1.05m apart that aren't an entrance !).
wideford Posted by wideford
28th July 2004ce
Edited 28th July 2004ce

Crannog, causewayed island dun, broch - are these three items one basically and the same? In Orkney CANMORE lists 112 brochs (actuals and some possibles and a few nots) and 2 crannogs (Stoney Holm HY311273 and Bretta Ness HY397322 at the Loch of Wasbister on Rousay). But two of the brochs do have causeways (Loch of Isbister HY257233 and Loch of Clumley HY252165) and the notes for Loch of Wasdale liken it to a causewayed island dun (perhaps more would show up if CANMORE did keyword searches as well as by site-type). Perhaps we think ourselves so much an island of brochs we can't see the wood for the trees. A websearch shows some archaeologists lumping all round stone prehistoric buildings together but I am only arguing for these specific three types being in a real continuum. wideford Posted by wideford
24th March 2004ce
Edited 25th March 2004ce

Having decided at some time to go to the Brough of Bigging at HY219157 ( S of Yesnaby , the Broch of Borwick being to the N - confusingly they share the alternative name of Yescanaby ! ) I did a websearch for the other Orcadian promontory fort . Finally had to fall back on CANMORE , which came up with five sites which have at one time or another been described as such . Off Mainland there is Br(a)e Brough a.k.a. Sui Fea at St.John's Head on Hoy (HY185031) and the less certain Scuthi Head on Sanday (HY633041) . Then there are the Brough of Windwick (ND459872) , the Point of Onston and my new target ( comprising simply of two widely spaced walls they say ) . wideford Posted by wideford
20th March 2004ce

The three headlands next to Kirkwall are basically off-limits. At very low tide you could reach Car Ness along the seashore maybe (even I've never risked it) but the road to Carness Farm is private - fortunately there is no archaeology noted here. The Head of Work you can only go as far as stopping short of Work Farm itself. But this is because hereon in is the private property of the water board. Which is a shame as from this junction you can make out an ayre [shingle bank] and a mound stands out over on the peninsula ( Long Cairn HY483138, a horned chambered tomb). Finally there is the Head of Holland (the red mound visible for miles is now used for quarrying stone for the cathedral and its earlier structures are much too fragmentary to attempt identification even before the present time). Orcadians have walked this at the weekends like forever , but now there is a sign at Seatter Farm preventing further progress - I am unconvinced of its legality, but there you (don't) go. North Taing in this area might be a broch or proto-broch. wideford Posted by wideford
19th March 2004ce
Edited 10th April 2004ce

I found this quote on the Orkneyjar website (see links).
The Orcadian writer, George Mackay Brown wrote, "We cannot live fully without the treasury our ancestors have left to us"
Posted by winterjc
4th December 2001ce


Add a link Add a link

Orkney - Archaeology

Link from Aerial-Cam; Rather beautiful tourist video of the achaeology of Orkney. Enjoy.
moss Posted by moss
26th August 2014ce

exactly as it says in the link orkney...archaeology
wideford Posted by wideford
26th December 2011ce
Edited 26th December 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish adventure: Part 8. Broch of Gurness and Cuween tomb. Day 5.

"Today started with a trip into Kirkwall as I wanted to visit some of Orkney's amazing islands and the main booking office was there. It is not difficult to find, sited close to the ferry port in Kirkwall harbour and is signposted Orkney ferries."

Chris Brooks.
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
13th September 2011ce
Edited 13th September 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish adventure: Part 7. Stenness and Brodgar. Day 4 - Part 2.

"Unstan is a neatly kept chambered tomb not too far from Brogdar on the other side of Stenness Loch along the A965. There is adequate visitor parking in a set-aside area and the tomb is a short walk along a marked path. The chamber is beautifully sited, near and surrounded on three sides by Stenness Loch. It is covered with a well kept grassy mound and surrounded by the normal wire fencing but looks quite small compared to the other chambers such as Wideford."
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
20th August 2011ce
Edited 13th September 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish adventure: Part 7. Stenness and Brodgar.

"Well, return I did. After a good night sleep I got up and drove straight back to Brodgar but again it was occupied by the maintenance team cutting the grass. Just checking my map, there were a couple of other places in the area I could visit and so drove down to the Barnhouse Stone."
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
15th August 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish adventure: Part 6. Stenness and Brodgar

"The route back was quite hard going against the wind and now the rain had started again. In fact at times it was hitting my face so hard it felt like riding a motorbike in a hailstorm with the helmet visor open (trust me, not recommended)."

Chris Brooks
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
1st August 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish Adventures: Part 5. Crantit and Grain Souterrains etc

"The weather had turned wet and windy, and while checking my programme of events I decided I would visit some of the more local sites that day. Now I was staying in Finstown, which is very close to some of the local sites that would be on most people's 'Top 5 Orkney places to visit' list."
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
24th July 2011ce
Edited 24th July 2011ce

BBC i-Player - Grand Tours of Scotland

Maes Howe and Dwarfie Stane, starting about 19mins through episode 5.
wideford Posted by wideford
11th November 2010ce
Edited 22nd November 2010ce

10mn film on erosion

Skara Brae, Links of Noltland dig, some of Ring of Brodgar, teeny bit of Stones of Stenness
[IE no good for this video on my PC, Firefox worked]
wideford Posted by wideford
26th August 2010ce
Edited 26th August 2010ce

BBC Countryfile Magazine

Discover the Orkney Dream.

A surprisingly good article from Countryfile on the Orkneys...
moss Posted by moss
11th February 2010ce
Edited 11th February 2010ce

Orkney Heritage

The official Orkney Islands Council department
wideford Posted by wideford
27th January 2006ce

Walk Orkney

Orkney Islands Council will be gradually putting online guides and walks for all areas of Orkney. So far walks in West Mainland, Stronsay and Sanday can be viewed/downloaded.
wideford Posted by wideford
15th April 2005ce

British Archaeology

Article by Colin Richards about how archaeologists' ideas have changed regarding Orkney in the Neolithic.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th May 2004ce


Excellent website maintained by a local enthusiast.
Good sections on prehistoric sites, general [and bonkers] folklore and loads of other good images / info.
Do check out the whole site.
Posted by winterjc
4th December 2001ce

Latest posts for Orkney

Showing 1-10 of 3,410 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Skara Brae (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — News

Rodents Eaten By Neolithic Orcadians, Research Suggests
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
19th October 2016ce

South Ronaldsay — News

Iron Age Jewellery Made On Orkney Recreated
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th September 2016ce

Maeshowe (Chambered Tomb) — News

Maeshowe Neolithic Burial Cairn To Stay Open In Orkney To Stay Open

Good news :-)
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th September 2016ce

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drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
21st September 2016ce

Maeshowe (Chambered Tomb) — News

no public access

CLOSED September 26th indefinitely owing to traffic concerns
wideford Posted by wideford
7th September 2016ce

Taversoe Tuick (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Entering the enclosure the second thing I noticed after the cairn itself was a shallow trench all around the ege of the mound, and outside that a lot of stones of decent size. Canmore says "bounded by a wall-face of horizontally laid stones. Surrounding the cairn is a spread of loose flat stones forming a sort of platform. An alley, clear of stones, led through it up to the W edge of the cairn". Alley past tense. Before tackling the mound I investigated the other piece of the puzzle. This now has an angled metal door that swings out. This is where a fold-out screen comes in useful, sitting down on the horizontal stone and sticking the camera inside on wide angle. Then up to the main prize. I was very careful with the ladder in the cairn, starting face forward at the start, and the space between the rungs is over-large so that it would be all too easy for the whole leg to slip between them - I would have preferred to have someone with me just in case ! wideford Posted by wideford
6th September 2016ce

Holm of Papa Westray (Chambered Tomb) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Holm of Papa Westray</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Holm of Papa Westray</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Holm of Papa Westray</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Holm of Papa Westray</b>Posted by Ravenfeather Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
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Showing 1-10 of 3,410 posts. Most recent first | Next 10