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Rousay, Taversoe Tuick

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Rousay, Taversoe Tuick

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 2634

Site Number HY42NW 2

NGR HY 4257 2761

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/2634

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

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Rousay And Egilsay
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY42NW 2 4257 2761.

(HY 4257 2761) Tumulus (NR) Stone Cists, Urns & Human Remains found (AD 1899)

OS 6"map, Orkney, 2nd ed.,(1900).

"Taversoe Tuick", an Orkney-Cromarty Bookan-type cairn, situated on the slope of the hill. Up to 1898 it appeared to be a small heather-covered knoll about 4' high, but in that year part of the upper chamber was exposed and access was gained to the intact chamber and passage below. It was completely excavated in 1937, and the upper chamber covered with a domed roof.

The cairn has a diamaeter of about 30' and is bounded by a wall-face of horizontally laid stones. Surrounding the cairn is a spread of loose flat stones forming a sort of platform. An alley, clear of stones, led through it up to the W edge of the cairn. The cairn covers two separate chambers, one directly above the other. The upper, at ground level and entered from the N or uphill side, is placed centrally in the cairn; the lower is subterranean and entered from the S.

The passage to the upper chamber is 11' long, 1' 9" wide and 3' maximum high. The upper chamber measures 15' 6" by 6', its main axis at right angles to the passage. It is divided into two unequal compartments with rounded ends. Three stone cists, measuring about 1' 6" by 2', with cover-stones, had been built on a layer of earth about 1' thick between two upright slabs in the N wall of the W compartment. The lower chamber is entered by a passage 2' wide and 4' high at its inner end but contracting to 1' 5" and 2' high at the outermost lintel. The passage is 19' long from the chamber thus continuing 5' 6" outside the cairn above. Outside the roofed passage the sloping sides of the trench are visible, lined with walling but without lintels. The walls continue down the hillside for 19' narrowing to only 2 1/2" wide by the entrance to the "miniature chamber". This small channel has been called a drain but this is obviously not its purpose.

The lower chamber is entirely subterranean and roughly oval with the main axis at right angles to the passage. It measures 12' long by 5' 4" wide and is divided by five vertical slabs into four compartments opening from a central space. The miniature chamber at the end of the passage extension is also subterranean. It is roughly oval in plan, the main axis lying SW-NE, 5' long by 4'4" wide. Four upright slabs are set radially in the wall and hardly project into the chamber. The entrance is by a vertical drop into a narrow extension of the chamber on the SW. Finds include several skeletons and cremated bone, two complete Unstan bowls and fragments of others, a perforated secondary Neolithic mace-head, a flint arrowhead, flint scrapers, thirty-five disc beads of grey shale etc, which, except for the skeleton remains, have been donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland.

A S Henshall 1963; RCAHMS 1946; W G Grant 1939; J Phemister 1942.

As described and planned by Henshall.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS(ISS) 8 October 1972.

'The Orkney Herald' in 1898 describes the excavation of the site, from May 5th 1898.

M Howe 2006

Activities

Excavation (1898)

"Taversoe Tuick", an Orkney-Cromarty Bookan-type cairn, situated on the slope of the hill. Up to 1898 it appeared to be a small heather-covered knoll about 4' high, but in that year part of the upper chamber was exposed and access was gained to the intact chamber and passage below.

Field Visit (1941)

Visited by Childe in 1941.

V G Childe 1942

Publication Account (1996)

This is one of two Orcadian tombs remarkable for their double-storey design; the other is Huntersquoy on Eday (HY 562377) of which little can now be seen. In both cases, there is an upper and a lower chamber, each with its own entrancepassage opening 111 diametrically opposed directions and with no access between the two, so that they are in effect two separate tombs although they appear to have been built simultaneously. At Taversoe Tuick it is possible to enter both chambers, and to look into an unusual miniature 'tomb' built at the edge of the platform on which the main tomb stands, close close to the passage leading into the lower chamber. It 'contained three pottery bowls and may have been connected with ritual activities.

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

Orkney Smr Note (December 1997)

In the early 1990's on the 18th Dec, mid morning. I observed the sun shining along the passage leading to the lower chamber.

Information from Orkney SMR (JG) 18 December 97

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