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Head Of Work

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Head Of Work

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Head Of Work, Long Cairn

Canmore ID 2431

Site Number HY41SE 1

NGR HY 4834 1382

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Kirkwall And St Ola
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY41SE 1 4834 1382.

Chambered Cairn (Horned), Work: It occupies the highest part of the ground, and appears now as merely a grass-grown ridge 153 ft long and over 40 ft wide, with its major axis running E and W. At its east end the mound rises about 11 ft 9 ins above the general level. On the summit there is a cavity containing slabs set on edge, but it is uncertain whether or not this is the top of a ruined chamber. At each extremity there are obvious traces of lateral projections or horns....No statement can be made regarding the character of the chamber. To the west of the cavity already referred to, stones appearing above the turf indicate a built wall which may or may not be part of the original structure.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 19 July 1928 and 29 June 1935.

Orkney-Cromarty, long, horned.

A S Henshall 1963.

HY 48351382. This cairn is grass-covered, but traces of stone slabs can be seen at the east end. It is 2.0m high at the east, tapering to 0.9m high at the west.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 5 April 1964.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (AA) 20 May 1973.

Scheduled as Head of Work, long cairn.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 1 December 1992.


Field Visit (2007)

Measurements taken unaided on a breezy day starting at the western hornworks (Hornworks 1) and proceeding over the chambered mound (B) to the western (hornworks 2). Davidson & Henshall's "ruined chamber" is my B1, with the rear orthostat the last shown on their plan.

From back end of Hornworks 1 to edge of feature A = 0.2m. A is 4.8m wide by 3.8m f-b (flat uneven stones on slight mound. ? chamber of long cairn). At 2m from A is a a small projecting slab, then 6.1m from this to edge of main mound B. This is about 12m wide . At 6.5m from mound edge is a 0.68x0.3 m projecting slab with angled top. Then another 1.4m to edge of feature B1 3.1m wide at summit (stone- & slab-filled hollow. ?chamber). From this edge 1.4m a to 1.1m long orthostat by back edge (slab showing 0.6m of top) is 1.4m. From eastern edge of B1 to mound base 6m, then 3.3m to back end of Hornworks 2. Slightly lower but only 0.5m to right of B1 is similar hollow B2 but 1.7m diameter (? another chamber - or is seperating strip a product of excavation ??). Behnd this is depression B3 measuring 2.3 by 2.2-2.6m (? robbed chamber).

Visited by Martin Howe, 2007

Orkney Smr Note

The cairn is situated in rough grazing on a low rock-edged

peninsula at 50ft OD. 'It occupies the highest part of the

ground, and appears now as merely an elongated grass-grown ridge

153ft long [overall] and over 40ft wide with its major axis

running E and W.... At its E end the mound rises about 11ft 9in

above the general level.... At each extremity there are obvious

traces of lateral projections or horns. At the E end the remains

of these are longer and diverge more widely from one another than

at the W end, a space of 79ft intervening between their tips on

the E, while the distance between the aspices of the W horns is

only 48ft...' The top of the high E end of the cairn has been

disturbed and in the hollow is a number of massive flagstones set

on edge or on end, at right angles to the main axis of the cairn.

They suggest the presence of a chamber here.

Information from Orkney SMR [n.d.]


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