North Ronaldsay, Howmae Brae

Roundhouse(s), Settlement, Wheelhouse

Site Name North Ronaldsay, Howmae Brae

Classification Roundhouse(s), Settlement, Wheelhouse

Canmore ID 3691

Site Number HY75SE 5

NGR HY 7583 5227

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Cross And Burness
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY75SE 5 7583 5227

(HY 7583 5227) Howmae Brae (NR)

OS 6" map, Orkney, 2nd ed., (1900).

An Iron Age settlement, contemporary with the brochs, consisting of two large round-houses on either side of a paved courtyard, accompanied by rectangular byres and steadings.

Finds indicated that this was a farming, fishing and whaling community, and included a saddle-quern. Though no metal survived, a broken knife handle and the absence of many stone implements indicated that metal tools were available. The pottery confirmed the contemporaneity with the brochs although some of it was comparable in part to that from the earlier Calf of Eday settlement (HY53NE 19).

The round-houses which had been erected in a sand-dune, both had internal radial slab partitions and in one the wall showed evidence of corbelling inwards. The site was partly excavated in 1884 by Dr Wm Traill and in 1889 by John Traill, the finds being donated by NMAS.

The site now has the appearance of a mound 150' E-W and 250' N-S.

W Traill 1885; J Traill 1890; RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928; J R C Hamilton 1968.

All that can be seen of this settlement on Howmae Brae, now overblown with sand, is the SE arc of a wheelhouse (i on Traill's plan), 5 courses high; two upright slabs, being the ends of radial piers; and amorphous traces of walling.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB), 22 July 1970.

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