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between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Rousay, Knowe Of Craie

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Cremation (Neolithic), Scraper (Tool)(S) (Neolithic), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Site Name Rousay, Knowe Of Craie

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Cremation (Neolithic), Scraper (Tool)(S) (Neolithic), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 2715

Site Number HY43SW 19

NGR HY 4196 3153

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY43SW 19 4196 3153.

(HY 4196 3152) Knowe of Craie (NR)

Stone Cist (NR)

"Knowe of Craie", an Orkney-Cromarty cairn, stands in enclosed land and had already been greatly reduced and ruined before excavation. The cairn is roughly circular in plan, measuring 38' by 35'6" in diameter. A wall-face encircling the cairn was traced for rather more than half its circumference and there seems to be another, about 1'6" within the cairn edge. The passage, 8' long, opens from the E side and the chamber, 14'9" long by 5'9" to 8'3" wide, is divided into three compartments by upright transverse slabs. The chamber was left open after excavation.

On the N side of the entrance outside the cairn a small hollow was found made in the rock, about 1'6" across by 4" deep. It contained ashes, pieces of burnt bone, flints and small sherds. (Prob. "Stone Cist" published on OS 6").

Various pottery sherds, two scrapers and four flint chips from the site are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), presented by W G Grant 1944-45.

A S Henshall 1963; RCAHMS 1946. Visited 1936; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1946.

"Knowe of Craie", a chambered cairn as described and planned by Henshall.

Surveyed at 1/10 000

Visited by OS(AA) 19 October 1972.


Field Visit (1941)

Visited by Childe in 1941.

V G Childe 1942

Field Visit (September 1980)

Knowe of Craie (ORK 27) HY 4196 3152 HY43SW 19

Tripartite round cairn excavated by Grant in 1941. Finds in NMAS.

RCAHMS 1982, visited September 1980

(Wilson Portfolio ff. 20-1; PSAS, 79 (1944-5), 180; RCAHMS 1946, ii, p. 206, No. 568; Henshall 1963, 208-9; OR 619)

Field Visit (7 May 2013)

This chambered cairn, known as the ‘Knowe of Craie’ (Name Book No.16, p.78), stands on a low knoll on the gentle SE flank of Kierfea Hill, just 80m NW of the remains of the former farmstead of East Craie, itself now reduced to a grass-grown spread of stones. The cairn, which was opened in antiquity and excavated by a local landowner, WG Grant, in 1941, now comprises a low grass-grown mound, flattened on the ESE and measuring up to 11.5m from NNE to SSW by 9.5m transversely over a kerb that was exposed by Grant. In some places this kerb comprises edge-set slabs and in others coursed masonry. It is particularly evident on the W, where its outer face has been exposed in a trench about 1m in width, the spoil from which has been piled into heaps immediately to the N and W. Both the ruinous burial-chamber and the passage, which extends from the ESE side of the cairn, lie exposed. The small rock-cut hollow that is said to be situated on the N side of the entrance outside the cairn, was not seen on the date of visit.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG), 7 May 2013.

Note (2020)

Knowe of Craie

This burial site in Orkney Islands was a focus for funerary practices in the Neolithic period, between 3300 BC and 2451 BC.

Prehistoric Grave Goods project site ID: 60082


Total no. graves with grave goods: 1

Total no. people with grave goods: 1

Total no. grave goods: 2

Prehistoric Grave Goods project Grave ID: 74042

Grave type: Pit

Burial type(s): Cremation

Grave good: Assemblage

Materials used: Chert / Flint [Flint]

Current museum location: Unknown

Grave good: Pot (Unknown/Unspecified)

Materials used: Pottery

Current museum location: Unknown

Further details, the full project database and downloads of project publications can be found here:

An accessible visualisation of the database can be found here:


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