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Papa Westray, King's Craig

Farmstead (Post Medieval), Settlement (Prehistoric)(Possible), Settlement (Norse)(Possible)

Site Name Papa Westray, King's Craig

Classification Farmstead (Post Medieval), Settlement (Prehistoric)(Possible), Settlement (Norse)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Whitehowe

Canmore ID 2853

Site Number HY45SE 14

NGR HY 4840 5062

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/2853

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

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

Archaeology Notes

HY45SE 14 4840 5062

See also HY45SE 37.

(Area: HY 484 506) Slight traces of a drystone structure, the greater part of which was washed away about the beginning of the century, are visible on King's Craig, a high rocky bank overhanging the shore near the farm-buildings at Whitehowe.

A kitchen-midden deposit, similar to that at Munkerhoose (HY43SE 26) and containing potsherds, lies along the bank facing the beach.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928.

The amorphous remains of dry-stone structures and associated midden material as described by the RCAHMS are visible for a length of 26.0m in the cliff face at HY 4840 5062. Potsherds found in the midden are typical of those found in brochs. The name 'Kings Craig' is still known locally.

Visited by OS (NKB) 2 July 1970.

The cliff, some 4m in height, which forms a headland at the farmstead of Whitehowe, is composed largely of settlement debris extending for some 26m along the coast. The archaeological deposits begin at 1.7m above beach level and are 2m thick, comprising shell and animal bone middens interpsersed with heavy stone structures including flagstone floors with slab-formed drains beneath them. On the clifftop the site is discernible as a slight broad mound underlying t he farm buildings. Some finds in Tankerness House Museum.

RCAHMS 1983, visited June 1982.

Activities

Orkney Smr Note (June 1982)

Deposits, length as stated OS, have maximum thickness of

2.3m above the natural which itself is 1.7m above beach-top

level, giving overall height of 4m. Many heavy stone structures

including flagged floors; at two different levels slab-formed

drains run out. Much of the masonry is of beach stones. Near

bottom of deposit is rich midden layer with many shells and

animal bones. Two pieces of water-worn pumice were found in this

bottom level. The site is apparent on the clifftop as a broad

mound extending under the farm buildings of Whitehowe.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Jun 82.

Field Visit (1998)

Substantial archaeological deposits and structural remains are exposed in the coastal section around the headland at Whitehowe. The cliff stands up to 4m high and, of this, up to 2m is comprised of archaeological deposits. The exposure extends for about 30m. At the base of the section, glacial till is covered by a cultivation soil, which in turn is covered by a layer of blown sand. The earliest structural remains visible in the section are built over this layer of sand. They comprise a flagged surface, associated with up to three structures and a series of stone lined drains. The walls of the structures vary in construction; one is double faced with a hollow core, others appear to be revetted. The impression gained is that the structures are conjoined or closely associated. Layers of anthropogenic soils and midden-type deposits surround and fill in to the structures, and there is some evidence of a secondary phase of construction. Further deposits of shell midden and agricultural soils fill in to the uppermost structures and render the area level. Although the deposits exposed at this site are extensive, they are not capable of ready interpretation. The earliest remains relate to cultivation while later remains suggest a substantial settlement which was occupied over a long duration. At the abandonment of the settlement, the area appears to have been farmed once again. The farmstead which now occupies part of the site is of 18th-20th C date. The later structures visible in section are reminiscent of Viking or Norse buildings, but this cannot be coclusively demonstrated with the available evidence. Since this stage of activity occurs at an intermediate stage in the life of the site, it is probable that the ealier remains may be of prehistoric date. The remains have already been affected by coastal erosion and very vulnerable to further losses. It is very unlikely, given its physical circumsatance and extent, that this site can be provided with coastal defences and therefore it must be assessed, excavated or abandoned. As a first step, it is recommended that an assessment should be carried out as a matter of urgency to ascertain the extent, date and nature of the remains.

Moore and Wilson, 1998

Orkney Coastal Zone Assessment

Field Visit (13 May 2015)

ShoreUPDATE

As described. Soils, paving, walling and midden visible in section. Dumping of modern material over coast edge at north and south ends of site. The site is actively eroding and vulnerable.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 13 May 2015

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