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Cummi Howe, Cumminess

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Cummi Howe, Cumminess

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Cummina Howe

Canmore ID 1704

Site Number HY21SE 17

NGR HY 2824 1039

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Stenness
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY21SE 17 2824 1039.

(HY 2824 1039) Cummi Howe (OE) (Chambered Mound)

Annotation on (undated) OS map.

This mound, known as 'Cummina Howe' is probably a broch. There are considerable traces of stonework but so broken up and turf-covered that no definite plan can be traced. Although it appears to have been quarried to some extent for building materials, it has not been systematically investigated.

At the S side, a portion of a circular wall is exposed for a height of six feet, and against this has been built, possibly at a later date, a small structure, in shape a segment of a circle, measuring 9ft N-S by 8ft E- W. A passage 3ft 8 ins wide and only about 2ft long, leading into the structure, can be seen at the west end adjoining the main circular wall.

RCAHMS 1946.

A mutilated and much eroded broch, known as 'Cummi Howe'. All that can be seen to identify this as a broch is a short stretch of walling, c.6.0m long and surviving to a maximum height of 1.0m, showing eight courses of medium- sized stones. This is presumably the outer wall-face although it could be the wall of a mutual cell or gallery. Further possible traces of this wall were located to the north. The whole of the west side of the broch has been eroded by the sea and, on the east side, a plantie creugh has been built. The small structure and the short passage mentioned by the RCAHMS are no longer visible.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RB) 10 May 1966.


Field Visit (1998)

Fragments of walling and structural remains have been partially exposed by coastal erosion in the seaward side of a large amorphous mound. The exposure measures 25m by 14m and stands up to 2m high. Previously, a substantial circular wall was visible, as was a passage leading to a secondary structure. These are not now clearly visible, although portions may survive beneath the dense vegetation. Now, only a fragment of walling, which may be the inner face of a gallery or intra-mural cell, is visible. While the site has undoubtedly been damaged by coastal erosion, the section face appears is not continously receding but but rather it is being removed in spurts, with periods of vegetation regeneration in between. The highest point of the mound lies behind the current section face and it would appear that the major part of the structure, which is most likely to be a broch, remains relatively intact.

Moore and Wilson, 1998

Orkney Coastal Zone Assessment

Publication Account (2002)



Possible broch close to the shore in Stenness; the site is a mound showing many traces of stonework and the whole of the west side has been eroded by the sea. Part of a circular wall -- either the outer wall face or the inner face of a mural gallery -- is visible on the south side and shows eight courses of stonework [1]. There was also a small structure next to the main wall with a passage in it [2], now invisible.

Sources: 1. OS card HY 21 SE 17: 2. RCAHMS 1946, 2, no. 872, 298.

E W MacKie 2002

Field Visit (10 May 2015)


The mound is generally well vegetated, a short section of structural walling is visible in the coast edge on its south side, the remainder of the coastal side of the mound appears stable. The interior of the mound has been damaged, possibly by stone robbing. A post-medieval sheep pen has been constructed on top of the mound, probably built of the stones from the structure. The site is fenced off so not currently at risk from stock erosion.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 10 May 2015


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