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Field Visit

Date 1998

Event ID 639233

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


This site was first excavated in the 1930's by the landowner William Traill (Traill and Kirkness, 1937). Further work was carried out in the 1970's when the site was prepared for consolidation. (Ritchie, 1984). It is now open to the public. The earlier phase of work involved clearing away an overburder of sand from the house interiors and locating the outer walls. Two houses were uncvovered and the presence of earlier midden deposits was noted. At this time, the site was thought to be of Iron age date. The site was taken into guardianship in 1937 and a sea wall was built in front of it to protect against coastal erosion. Subsequent work in the 1970's uncovered the houses more thoroughly and investigated the surrounding area. The construction of the houses has now been radiocarbon dated to later fourth millenium BC, making this the earliest settlement known in Orkney. The presence of midden deposits beneath the houses indicates that they were not the first settlement in this area. An examination of flint assemblage recovered from the site environs indicated the presence of mesolithic artefacts (Wickham-Jones, 1990). The larger of the houses measures 10m by 5m, is divided by upright slabs into two rooms and contains hearths, pits and built-in cupboards. It was interpreted as the main dwelling area.The smaller house, measuring 7.5m by 3m is interpreted as a storage and working area. It is also divided into twom chambers and is thought to be of slightly later date. Analyses of the recovered materials indicate a pastoral mode of subsistence with cattle sheep and pig rearing, along with some cereal of Unstan-type pottery being used in a domestic context.

Moore and Wilson, 1998

Orkney Coastal Zone Assessment

People and Organisations