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Hoy, St John's Head, Brae Brough

Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Hoy, St John's Head, Brae Brough

Classification Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Bre Brough; Sui Fea

Canmore ID 1480

Site Number HY10SE 1

NGR HY 1854 0311

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/1480

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Hoy And Graemsay
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY10SE 1 1854 0311

A mass of rock almost detached from the W side of Sui Fea, its own W face forming the vertical 325m precipice of St John's Head. It is approached by crossing a narrow saddle and climbing a series of ledges. Some 3m below the top, a short length of drystone wall has been built across one of the ledges, and at the summit, a bank 4m to 5m wide and 0.5m to 0.7m high runs along the land-facing edge and curves around the N side. It may have served as an occasional retreat, either defensive or spiritual.

R G Lamb 1970, visited July 1970; RCAHMS 1989.

Activities

Field Visit (July 1970)

A mass of rock almost detached from the W side of Sui Fea, its own W face forming the vertical 325m precipice of St John's Head. It is approached by crossing a narrow saddle and climbing a series of ledges. Some 3m below the top, a short length of drystone wall has been built across one of the ledges, and at the summit, a bank 4m to 5m wide and 0.5m to 0.7m high runs along the land-facing edge and curves around the N side. It may have served as an occasional retreat, either defensive or spiritual.

R G Lamb 1970, visited July 1970; RCAHMS 1989.

Orkney Smr Note (July 1970)

Brae Brough is a piece of rough ground resembling an island

by its being surrounded by a rocky precipice. [R1]

An almost detached mass of rock forming St John's Head, with

a surface area of about one hectare. It is approached by crossing

a narrow saddle and climbing a series of ledges. About 3m below

the summit, this approach passes between a spur of rock and the

cliff-face, and is there blocked by a short length of drystone

wall. At the summit, the level top of the Brough has a

considerable turf bank along the land-facing edge and curving

round the N corner of the Brough; it is 0.5m-0.7m high and 4 to

5m broad. The Brough is covered by thick peaty turf which would

conceal any othe structures which may be present.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) July 1970.

Note (22 February 2015 - 17 August 2016)

This promontory fort is situated on the spectacular cliiffs on the NW coast of Hoy, which form a precipice falling away some 325m to the sea along its NW flank. Essentially a stack, the only access is across a narrow neck on the E, from which the route to the summit is blocked first by a short length of wall between a spur of outcrop and the cliff-edge some 3m below the crest, and second by a grass grown bank up to 5m in thickness by 0.7m in height, which can be traced along the landward margin of the stack. The peat covered and featureless interior forms an irregular quadrilateral on plan, measuring 175m along the cliff-edge on the WNW by a maximum of 70m transversely (0.87ha).

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 17 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2835

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