Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Cuween Hill

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Cuween Hill

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Kewing Hill

Canmore ID 2059

Site Number HY31SE 1

NGR HY 3642 1277

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY31SE 1 3642 1277.

(HY 3636 1271) Cuween Hill - a Maes-Howe-type round grass-covered chambered cairn, about 55ft in diameter and 8ft 6 ins high, with evidence of at least eight interments.

A S Henshall 1963; RCAHMS 1946; M M Charleson 1902; V G Childe and W D Simpson 1961 also Orkney Herald 20 June 1888 and The Orcadian June 23rd 1888.

Cuween Hill chambered cairn is as described and illustrated by the above authorities.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 22 April 1966.


Publication Account (1996)

You must enter this tomb as did neolithic man, uncomfortably on your hands and knees! But it is worth the effort of crawling along the 5.5m long passage, not just to see the burial chamber but also to appreciate the psychology behind the design of the tomb and the practical difficulties of any funerary rituals. This is a Maes Howe type of chamber, set within a circular cairn (the roof is modern); the main chamber has four side-cells, one of them double, and the quality of the masonry is very high. Both chamber and cells were cut into solid bedrock and, like Maes Howe, the entrances into the cells are somewhat higher than the chamber floor. When first explored in the 19th century, the skulls of twenty-four dogs were found on the floor of the chamber, perhaps as a token of tribal identity. There were also the remains of eight skeletons in the main chamber and cells.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Orkney’, (1996).

Orkney Smr Note

'...traces of a rectangular chamber running N and S came to

light, the walls widening as the excavation proceeded downwards,

and after reaching a depth of three or four feet the work was

continued longitudinally, which revealed the entire length of the

chamber. Up to this point debris consisted of slabs of various

sizes, earth, and animal remains. At a depth of about 6ft lateral

recesses, five in number, were discovered, one of which

subsequently proved to be the end of the entrance passage'.

Information from Orkney SMR [n.d.]


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions