Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Westray, Curquoy

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Inhumation(S) (Early Neolithic)

Site Name Westray, Curquoy

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Inhumation(S) (Early Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Korkquoy

Canmore ID 2772

Site Number HY44NW 17

NGR HY 431 473

NGR Description HY c. 431 473

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map


Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY44NW 17 c. 431 473.

(Area: HY 429 474) Henshall classifies as an Orkney-Cromarty type long cairn, an immense chambered tomb at Korkquoy, at the foot of Knucker Hill (HY 428 470). It was destroyed in 1860 but Petrie gives an account by John Hewison, Westray, viz:"A mound extended from S to N about 100' long and 50' broad. The graves or tombs were nearest to the N end of the mound. There were two of them lying parallel to each other and about 3' apart. Each grave was about 10' long and 8' wide. They were formed with broad flagstones set on edge - the larger stones were on the W side. On the W side of the W grave there was a large stone 8' long, 1' thick, 3' (or 5') below the surface.

The skeletons in each grave lay N and S in several tiers one above the other, the heads of the skeletons of one tier lying N and the other S and so on alternately.

Five or six tiers were counted in one grave and six skulls in each tier, and the other grave was believed to contain about the same number which would give about 60 or 70 skeletons altogether. In the E graves some of the skeletons were observed to lie in a doubled or contracted posture, but in the W they lay on their sides with their faces to the E. Both graves were filled up with stones seemingly thrown down in a careless manner. It was evident that they had never been disturbed since the bodies had been placed in the grave and that they had all been interred at the same time.

The only relic found with them was a ball of quartz apparently mixed with greenstone." (G Petrie Antiquaries Ms 545, 17-18) (Located very approximately for Miss Henshall by E MacGillivray, County Library, Kirkwall, but see HY44NW 16).

Curquoy applies to two cultivated fields about 1/2 mile due W of the centre of Loch Saintear (HY 438 475).(Information contained in a letter from N Cooper to A S Henshall 1959).

RCAHMS 1946; A S Henshall 1963.

No trace. Miss Henshall's grid reference occurs on a steep slope, an unsuitable position for a cairn. The name Korkquoy is not known locally.

Visited by OS(RL) 27 June 1970.

Mr M Rendall of Breckowall farm pointed out Upper Curquoy field centred at HY 4315 4730, and Lower Curquoy field centred at HY 4330 4744. Both are under cultivation; the former on sloping ground immediately below Knucker Hill, and the latter on flat ground. Both show no concentration of stones indicative of the site of a cairn.

Visited by OS (JLD) 10 May 1983.

The Orcadian newspaper describes the excavations in 1860-3 and mentions the finding of a quartzite ball (see References).


Note (2020)


This burial site in Orkney Islands was a focus for funerary practices in the Neolithic period, between 4000 BC and 3301 BC.

Prehistoric Grave Goods project site ID: 60084


Total no. graves with grave goods: 1

Total no. people with grave goods: 1

Total no. grave goods: 1

Prehistoric Grave Goods project Grave ID: 74048

Grave type: Chamber

Burial type(s): Inhumation

Grave good: Pebble

Materials used: Quartz/Quartzite, Greenstone

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:


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions