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Little Howe of Hoxa (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

NMRS record no..ND49SW 2
Traditionally a passage connects the Little Howe of Hoxa to the Howe of Hoxa, but Petrie found no traces.- Wainright’s avenue is declared to be one of several linear stone clearance heaps. When Petrie investigated (through partial excavation) the already disturbed mound he found a central structure within two curvilinear concentric walls having a passage approx.. 2’ high and 12-16” wide at the base increasing a little in width at the top. The wall combo was ~21’ wide either side of the entrance then decreased to 13’ wide, and enclosed an irregular central chamber of 20’D. Inside a gallery extended behind the wall. As well as a southern ‘doorway’ cut down to the bedrock there was another passage opposite connecting to the ‘inner court’. Both entrance passage and gallery passages were lintelled.

Sower (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

RCAHMS NMRS record no.HY20NE 5
Close to the shore on the north side of the Sower Road is a large unopened mound of earth and stones which the Name Book states locals called an old castle and appears on the 25" as a castle site. By 1928 it was known locally as the "Hillock of Hoose-ha" and a visit by the commission records "traces of a large indeterminate structure". Nowadays thought to be a settlement mound, it is roughly rectangular - some 24m E/W by 19m - and about 2m high. No walling has been seen but stone is exposed in places around the periphery and cairn-like material shows in two "mutilations" at the centre.

Broch of Steiro

"Countrywoman" visited this site in the 60s; partial collapse in 1964 brought out a building in the outer wall. In 1967, a wall-chamber was revealed and she noted a structure in the nearby shore under low banks. Strong walls had been exposed a year later. The site suffered serious gale damage in 1984.
The main feature is part of the broch tower's NE wall arc standing 4' high and having a scarcement with rubble-filled alcove thought to have been access to a stair/gallery. A later wall cuts across the wall arc at the east.
RCAHMS site no. HY 51NW 10 additionally mentions a ruinous naust up against the W side and, also at the W, outbuilding traces including an edge-slab in the shoreline. Then E of the broch there is rubble covering a well-paved floor set directly on the natural.

West Mainland

On the Ness of Brodgar website, in the first of Sigurd Towrie's article on long cairns, one such is suggested as possiby being one on Outer Holm. There is a long low hillock next to the circular remains of a mill mound, but a look on Bing Satellite holds out little hope, all I see is a few very linear features on the 'site' - pity as I often photograph the place.

The Cairns, Hall of Ireland (Cairn(s))

described in the Orkney Name Book as mostly a raised earth and stone grass-covered mound [forming the northen end and ~25'D by 3' high] at the no, the remains of a Danish fort/castle (as they thought) . It is an uneven patch of ground approx. 100x50 yards with many irregular stony mounds that a recent survey think represents a substantial structure having seaward an enclosed yard (they also found a smaller mound landward of the structure's remains). RCAHMS described it as a 3m high N/S platform some 54x30m, and parallel to the coast, whose mostly level top rises slightly to the edges. To its seaward side bone pins were found in an area on the order of 50x10m that is enclosed by a curvilinear bank. The recent survey describes the structure as an irregular mound bounded by the yard (which goes all the way to the eroding coastline). The yard's north and south sides are formed by irregular earthen banks coming from the proposed structure's NW and SW corners.
At present it is proposed that this is a funerary or ritual site. In which case I think it could relate to the scant remains of a large disc barrow on the hillside above - the Howe of Tongue held a cist (

Brough of Braebister (Promontory Fort)

RCAHMS record no. HY20NW 20 is a mound 10 to 12 feet high mostly thought to be either the outwork to a broch (some instead go for a blockhouse underneath ) or an earlier promontory fort, the only dating evdence being broch-style pottery (finds lost), It lies ESE/WNW with an interior of the order 90' by 55'. The isthmus neck is blocked by a bank 10' wide and the same in height, in which Raymond Lamb saw walling traces with erect slabs amongst the rubble as well as what is left of a much slighter outer bank and ditch. On the mound antiquarians thought there had been a substantial stone structure reduced to slight scattered remains that led them to deduce 12' thick walls consistent with a broch. Some large stones stood in situ, more so at the cliff's west side. The mound's slopes abound in walling traces and earthfast stones. A shell midden yielded those fragments of the coarse ware called broch-type. RCAHMS couldn't find the midden later, but given how cnfusing the site lies I would suggest that this is the midden later found on the south side of the clifftop behind the supposed blockhouse. Much of the promontory contains wall traces and earthfast stones.

Riggan of Kami (Broch)

NMRS record no HY50NE. An excavation, cut short by the death of the director in 1982 , revealed on the N side a regularly curving segment of ground-galleried broch-type wall 13'6" thick which he thought could be a structure of the hypothesised 'semibroch' type adduced along the west coast of the Scottish mainland and in the Western Isles. Others suggesrted it might be a 'forework' or 'blockhouse' fort. In 2002 Euan Mackie suggested from plans of 1984 and and 1987 observations that inserted into a ground-galleried broch had been "a proper wheelhouse of Shetland type (with built radial piers)" otherwise only found in Shetland at that time. As well as the wall and traces of domestic structures on the promontory itself there are almost a hectare of dark midden deposits on the W side. Though the promontory isn't connected to the steep-sided Stack of Mustack/Moustag (HY50NE 28 HY59260743) it is likely it once was, with the suggestion that this was part of the Iron Age complex - two or three orthostats protrude from a low ~19mD mound at the far end.

Scockness (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Only the south side of RCAHMS record no. HY45SE 2, a grass-covered mound of gravel and small stones, survives due to erosion at the N and W part. It is 1.3m high and 12.5m E/W by 8m, thought not large enough for a broch so either a settlement or perhaps what's left of a cairn. Not a burnt mound they believe, owing to the absence of burnt material.

Green Hill of Quoyness (Broch)

NMRS record no. HY20SW 7 is 4m high 25m E/W along the coastline by 18m N/S, representing one half of the original broch as shown from the air. A well-built wall survives on the east side and further traces can be found in the SW slopes. The north side has a large hollow now used to dump rubbish. Men extracting stone for building ceased on discovering bones - in 1979 more were found in the dense tumble of the NW fringe after storm damage. And Cursiter around 1887 found cists inserted into the top of the mound itself.

Knowe of Yarso (Chambered Cairn)

An oval or sub-oval mound covered a stalled tomb entered from the south-eastern end. It resembled Midhowe except that the cairn sat on a substantial 'scarcement' surmounted by a foot high course of flags set at an angle thrn finally a horizontal course. It was the first such feature discovered in Orkney

Knowe of Gullow (Broch)

NMRS record no, HY31NW 1. In 1946 the rectilinear mound is 40-45 yards square and 12 foot high but in 1960 it is described as ~45m N/W by 36m and 1.5m high which does not compute. I suspect some belong to the mound and others to the slight eminence it sits on. Most definitely well above head height from the road ! An irregular outcrop of stones from the turf is thought to hint at a substantial structure beneath.

Knowe of Burrian (Garth Farm) (Broch)

The Knowe of Burrian , NMRS record no. HY31NW 2, was once 60' in diameter and 17 high. A berm seperates south and west sides of broch remains 1.2m high on the flattened top of a steep natural hillock. On the east side are three courses of outer wall face and possible traces of the inner wall face, from which it is estimated that its external diameter is ~18.3m and internal 8.5m.
After several failed digs by other folk Robert Flett of Garth made a go of excavating it in 1936, when a trench found distinct layers of 'hearth-materials' - charcoal, pot-boilers, animal bones, etc - before almost at the other side a slight turn revealed an interior chamber floor. As well as the Pictish Symbol Stone he found some burnt wood, stone tools and ashes. Then came one of those myserious 'wells' . Of two excavations in the centre of the mound the more westerly is the now covered location of an underground chamber. From a vertical entrance approx. 2'6" square eleven steps led steeply down 12' to a 10'x5' flat-roofed figure-of-8 corbelled structure compared to the Gurness well then being dug, though the site was called an earth-house rather than a broch at the time.

North Biggin (Broch)

Midhouse/Mithouse NMRS record no. HY32SW 17 at HY30802000, is a large grassy mound SW of Mithouse, 10~12' high and 132' by ~100' orientated NNE/SSW with many large stones on its slopes. In 1935 a small excavation found passageways and massive walls - it is thought to have been a broch as a shallow 54' D depression on top is surrounded by a low irregular bank.

The Shetland Isles


July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" George Petrie and Dr Hunt excavate 65'D 10~11' high bowl barrow. Near the centre 5-6' below the apex were fond a "peculiar" stone tool (similar to one found at Sefster on same trip), potsherds and ox bone fragments. Tumulus made of burnt stones, having a circle of stones just inside the perimeter with the remains of an encircling circular wall a few feet inside that. On the wall's inner face, roughly 15' inside the north perimeter, a large edgeset freestone block was found facing the centre. This was held up by a wall either side and had a large perforation near its upper end. Not far from the mound, but unconnected, were found two inscribed stones, each with a different kind of runes. These were taken to Lerwick..

Brindister Voe HU25NE 6
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" Broch of Brindister at edge of steep cliff and defended by double earthworks landward. George Petrie and Dr Hamiltton saw doorway and traced galleris in the circular wall but didn't examine inerior as choked with debris from broch tower.

Broch of Burraness HU58SW 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" described. In 1854 one of the best preserved broughs in Shetland but a lot taken for cottage building in Burraness.

The Brough HU48NW 3
31st 1865 "The Orcadian" llttle left of Brough of West Sandwick's wall.

Brough of North Garth ~HY547005
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" brough below house, at beach's N end, almost entirely gone.

Brough of Stoal HU58NW 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" at least 3 ditches cut off brough at stole/chair of Awick, very high banks.

Brough of West Yell
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" name mentioned.

Burgi Geo HP50NW 2
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" description of approach to brough on Burgar Goes, a site mentioned by Hibbert.

Burra Voe HU57NW 2
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" little left as most of Brough of Burnavoe stones taken to build house at Burnavoe by owner Mr Henderson, entrance to underground passages now blocked by stone.

Charlotte Street, Lerwick
February 12th 1886 "Orkney Herald" stone cist with remains, probably previously disturbed, found near surface in clearing site for Mr Ogalvy's houses at bottom of Charlotte Street.

Clickhimin HU44SE 2
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" Broch of Clickimin [sic] in worse state than Mousa but wall restoration more in keeping with design.. April 11th 1888 "Orkney Herald" Stones removed from causeway by local butcher for building material.

Fillicomb Point HP50NW 3
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" some ditches of brough in heads of Toft remain but part of broch fallen into the sea.
June 27th 1883 "Orkney Herald" report from "Shetland News"; man on Foulis [sic] finds fresh-looking but headless female body, lying on an o.g.s. of stunted heath, after digging 6' through solid peat.

Giant's Grave, North Yell
July 29th 1871 "The Orcadian" close to St Niniian's Kirk site (Papil Bay) is a N/S aligned low mound called giant's grave and never built upon, though slight attempts to excavate seem to show natural sandstone only.

Gossabrough HU58SW 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" chambers visible in Brough of Gossaburgh ruins, graves reported nearby.

Graveland HU49NE 3
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" remains of buildings at Brough of Bergaard on small peninsula.

Greenbank HP50SW ?53
July 29th 1871 "The Orcadian" two stone fragments with worn lettering found at Clinsara Reggs on the meik of Papal by Margaret Craigie of Millby Cottage servant, near the St Ninian's Kirk site.

Head of Brough HU48SW 2
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" description of Brough of Brough.

Holm of Coppister HU47NE 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" Brough of Cuppister mentioned (name only).

Levenwick HU412NW 3
August 21st 1869 "The Orcadian" recorded by Dryden.Broch excavated down to the foundations within the last fortnight by Gilbert Goudie and described. Only finds part of a handmill and bone fragments.

Loch of Huxter HU56SE 1

June 17th 1879 "Orkney Herald" described in notice read to Society of Antiquaries of Scotland..

Mailand (Unst) HP60SW

June 10th 1876 "The Orcadian" D Edmonton's men digging May 31st on area long dug for peats discover 4 cast metal items together mouth down in the peat, a large basin and 3 fire-pots different sizes.

Mousa HU42SE 1
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" description of Mousa-Borg, where restorations have been made to the walltop and the doorway but those to the latter has greatly changed the appearance.

Muckle Heog East HP61SW 12
September 27th 1864 "The Orcadian" burnt human bones from crouched people found in cist 18" below ground level in digging hole for flagstaff, 2 skulls sent by Mr Edmonton to Mr Roberts at Somerset House.

Papil Bay HP50SW 4
July 29th 1871 "The Orcadian" St Ninian's Kirk site at the Kinwail 'gard of Weeping' close to mound called giant's grave.

Sefster HU35SW 14
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" celts and stone knives found by minister Bryden several years ago in underground passage at Safsetter/Safester. Passage re-opened and many more tools found, including one similar to that already found in a Bressay mound. Potsherds and stone vessels also found.

St Ninian's Church HU32SE 4 ?
August 26th 1885 "Orkney Herald" letter from the "Scotsman" describing situation of unenclosed disused St Ninian/Ringan's graveyard: ~6 miles from Fitful Head on E side of tidal outlet on W side of mainland's southern part. Soil is loose light sand to a great depth.

Trebister HU43NW 13?
March 28th 1883 "Orkney Herald" preparations on Saturday for a graveyard at a grass-covered mound belonging to Rev Mr Walker bring to light a 'Pictish castle', 40' of a circular section 4' high surviving from what is likely to have been a ~140' outer wall of the building. Stone dyke encloses mound. Large quanities of dark red peaty ash in several places and a man's jawbone found. Other discoveries were a few stone celts, several 12x8" ovoid polished stones (some with oval cavities) and four pottery varieties - 2 dark red soft earthenware sherds, a hard brick red sherd, and a vrery hard modern looking highly polished grayish sherd with light green spots.

Uyea, Shetland HU69NW 7
March 18th 1885 "Orkney Herald" article includes extra to P.S.A.S record of meeting, being mention of 3 steatite urns found in tumulus and 4 polished oval porphyrite knives found by Mr J Leisk, all exhibited.

Scotland (Country)


Ackergill Links ND35NW 9
November 1st 1864 "The Orcadian" excavation of cists by Mr Laing April 24th 1866 "The Orcadian" Petrie says the mound is natural September 18th 1866 "The Orcadian" Laing gives reasons why Long Mound is not wholly natural

Birkle Hills ? ND35NW 5 ?
October 3rd 1865 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal"

Birkle Hills ND35NW 5
October 3rd 1865 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal"
April 24th 1866 "The Orcadian"
September 18th 1866 "The Orcadian"
October 18th 1893 "Orkney Herald"

December 3rd 1870 "The Orcadian" previous Tuesday 2 E/W aligned cists found 6' apart in gravelly eminence at W end of Dingwall a few feet under clay subsoil. One disturbed previously, other had two decorated urns in fragments with human bones at eastern end

Ha' of Bowermadden ND26SW 7
October 3rd 1865 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal"

Keiss North/White ND36SE 3 Keiss White Gate Broch
October 18th 1893 "Orkney Herald"

Keiss Road ND36SW 1 Churchyard Mound / Churchyard Road Broch / Kirk Toft
September 18th 1866 "The Orcadian"
October 18th 1893 "Orkney Herald"

Keiss South ND36SE 2 Harbour Mound
October 18th 1893 "Orkney Herald"

Kettleburn ND35SW 11
November 8th 1864 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal" cists have been found in adjacent field on Long Hills ridge October 3rd 1865 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal" referred to as only properly explored broch in Caithness, dug by Henry Rhind

April 24th 1866 "The Orcadian" worked iron fragment found in chambered tomb in middle of Kirkatahos moor on hill/ridge

Long Hills
November 8th 1864 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal" in next field to Kettleburn broch 4' by 3' cinerary cist found on Long Hills ridge. Similar cists have come from the ridge in the past and a bronze brooch found in one by landowner James Henderson of Bilbister sent to Society of Antiquaries museum

Thurso ND16NW 17
July 22nd 1896 Orkney Herald" discovery location and description
November 1st 1864 "The Orcadian" roughly 2 years before Ackergill Links ND35NW 9 dug J.G.T. Sinclair of Ulbster excavated Bronze Age cist in conical mound on a hill summit in Yarrows with skeleton similarly interred with shore material brought from some distance away. Found with bronze spearhead, 10" long porphyry lance-head, black clay-slate.battle axe with 7" blade, porphyry knife and arrowheads, broken black stone knife and a mallet head broken at the ends

Wester Broch ? ND35NW 4 ?
October 3rd 1865 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal"

Wester Broch ND35NW 4 Keiss Wester Broch
October 3rd 1865 "The Orcadian" from "John O'Groat's Journal"
April 24th 1866 "The Orcadian"
September 18th 1866 "The Orcadian"
October 18th 1893 "Orkney Herald" reporters did not have time to look at

Sandyhall (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

There were originally five or six mounds in the field next to Sandyhall, NMRS record no. HY31NE 7, In 1966 three survived; 1/A at HY39861951 a squared off grassy mound about 15m across and rising to 1.8m max, B at HY39861945 a spread out mound roughly 10m D and 0.7m high (Sandyhill 1 0.15m in height in 1993), and C a significant rise some 12m D and 0.8m high at HY39891937 (Sandyhill 3 partly protected by a building and 0.3m high). "The Orcadian" of November 3rd 1863 describes a cist found in the centre of a Sandy Hall knowe by John Louttit. This cist was roughly 3½' long, 20" wide and ~18" deep. Removing the rough flag coverstone revealed a burnt clay urn filled with burnt bone. This well-used urn had at some stage had to be clamped/stitched together and "broken long ago". The cist was re-excavated in 1968, described then as an E/W aligned cist 0.91x~0.5x~ and ~0.4m deep, sitting on the natural.

Ness of Woodwick (Broch)

Ness of Woodwick broch, NMRS record no. HY42SW 9, aka the Craig of Ritten/Rittin. The 'crag' is an impressive mound with dimensions estimated as 50-60 feet across with an inner diameter about half that - in 1946 at the seaward side to the NE about 20' of outer wall (thought to be the outer wall-face) could be observed. No midden was seen. Twenty years later most of this outer wall was overgrown like the rest of the mound. Hedges notes that the rocky outcrops and sand below would be a good place to haul up a boat.

Redland South (Chambered Cairn)

Redland South cairn, NMRS record no. HY32SE 17, was at least 27m long by 12m wide. Aligned ESE/WSW it sat on the edge of a shallow NW/SE plateau ~83m x ~15m, a natural dip on the NW side marked by an old track. A long stalled chamber is marked by eight protruding stumps. The compartments were most likely some 1.65m, though there was a longer compartment or two shorter ones between slabs 6 and 7 and the end compartment was also somewhat longer. The Redland Standing Stone and its partner formed a stall 4.1m from one end of the chamber [either the other stalls also once stood to a man's height and they are much reduced or there was a considerable variation in height, though what comes to my mind is Weyland Smithy]. It is thought possible that the cairn continued beyond the NE cairn material. Also there is a 1.3m long 0.4m high orthostat SE of the chamber not following its axis.

Seven Knowes (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Seven Knowes, HY32SE 8, is a compact group of bowl barrows set in boggy ground. They are on what the record calls a low plateau, and range in diameter from 12 to 35ft and in height from 18 ins to 2ft 6 ins. Excavations of three in close proximity to one another in 1998 found two of them had centrally placed cremation cists , these being evenly spaced around the mounds and taking the form of rounded pits dug into the hillwash that also covered them. Crude stone tools were found on top of the cists and also on the kerbs of these mounds. The two best surviving mounds, the largest, and most of the smaller ones have been dug before

Redland South (Chambered Cairn)

RCAMS 273 the Redland standing stone was, and stil is, the most visible piece of Redland South's stonework. Until the 1880s, when a farmer smashed it to stop livestock using it as a rubbing stone, it stood about 2m high. The irregularly topped stump is described in the late 1920s as 12 or 16" high by 3' broad by 6" thick, and aligned ENE/WSW like Staneyhill. At that time the 4'8" upper fragment, tapering to a 2'7" squared off top, lay where it fell. In 1929 the ground around the stone was described as irregular with some small earthfast stones with the smaller stump of another standing stone mere feet away. So the excavation we see here is 1930 or later. More to follow on the cairn proper when I've sifted through photos from three visits. Cairn is in two fields on your right as you go from the Evie road to the Broch of Gurness
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Unemployed and so plenty of spare time for researching contributors' questions and queries and for making corrections. Antiquarian and naturalist. Mode of transport shanks's pony. Talent unnecessary endurance. I love brochs.

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