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Hoy, Braebister, Upper Cairn

Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Site Name Hoy, Braebister, Upper Cairn

Classification Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 1556

Site Number HY20NW 13

NGR HY 2207 0546

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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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

HY20NW 13 2207 0546.

Centred HY 220 054: Upper Cairn (NAT)

OS 6" map 1903

Upper Cairn is an earth house of characteristic Orkney design. No entrance is visible and access is by a hole made in the roof of the passage which lies with its axis N.E. and S.W. and measures 8 feet 6 inches long by 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet 6 inches wide. At the SW end door-checks restrict the passage-width to 1 foot 9 inches where it leads into a chamber about 11 feet 6 inches by 7 feet 6 inches by 5 feet high, collapsed at the s.w. corner. The roof is supported by free-standing slabs of stone. At the N.E. end of the passage is a massive lintel-stone beyond which fallen masonry blocks the way to a possible extension. The roof of the passage rises from 2 feet 6 inches high at the N.E. end to nearly 5 feet at the S.W. end.

An abraded hammer-stone was found on the 12th July, 1929. To the S.E. of the earth-house there are surface indications of some other structure beneath the turf, in particular a slab, 3 feet 6 inches long, which is set on edge, with its axis N. and S. and protrudes from the crest of a slightly raised stony area from 25 to 30 feet distant from the remains above described.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 12 July 1929.

The earth house at HY2207 0546 is as described by RCAHMS although it was not possible to verify the exact dimensions of the chamber at the SW. end due to flooding. The present whereabouts of the hammer stone found in 1929 could not be ascertained. About 10.0 metres to the south of the entrance hole to the chamber of the earth house, the stone mentioned can be seen, and there appear to be traces of a structure below the surface measuring about 12.0 metres S. by 5.0 metres E. to W.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 20 September 1964.

Lying on a N-facing slope in pasture beside an estate road, this earth-house with its irregularly-shaped chamber was recorded and planned by Corrie in 1929, some years after its discovery by the accidental breaking of the entrance-passage roof.

To the SE, there is a settlement-mound measuring some 25m E-W and 20m N-S, being impinged upon by the estate road to the N and disappearing under soil-creep to the S. (Surface indications noted by Corrie and OS.)

RCAHMS Notebook,12 July 1929; RCAHMS 1946; RCAHMS 1989, visited September 1985.


Orkney Smr Note (September 1985)

Entrance to earth-house open, with temporary covering of slabs. The earth-house lies at the N edge (bounded and partly cut by the estate road) of a shapeless raised area, evidently a settlement mound, to which the edge-slab described by RC and another one near it, belong. The two edge-slabs probably belong to a prehistoric house. The settlement mound has a height of about 0.3m although higher above estate road cut into it. It has been impinged on by old ploughing on S and E, this old ploughing appears to have resulted in soil-creep down slope from the S which has probably buried much of the settlement. Traceable limits of the mound are about 20m N-S x 25m measured along the estate road.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Sept 1985.


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