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Papa Westray, Mayback

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

Site Name Papa Westray, Mayback

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

Canmore ID 2887

Site Number HY45SE 44

NGR HY 4954 5240

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. 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


Field Visit (June 1982)

Mayback HY 4954 5240 HY45SE

The buildings of Mayback occupy a farm mound lying N-S along the shore. Because it grades into the ridge of the dunes at each end its length cannot be estimated, but it is some 40m wide E-W. A typical 'farm mound' deposit of soft loamy brown earth with a few limpet shells has been exposed by erosion on the shoreline.

RCAHMS 1983, visited June 1982.

(OR 829).

Field Visit (1998)

A farm mound which extends for about 100m by 40m stands up to 5m high. It lies beneath the 18th-20th farmstead at Mayback. To the seaward side, erosion has created an exposure into the mound in which a variety of archaeological deposits are visible. Much of the mound is formed from fine organic soils derived from farm muck. There are also deposits of shell and inclusions of metal and post-medieval pottery. Occasionally, towards the base of the farm mound material, there are stones visible which may be part of a structure or structures which are not clearly identifiable. These deposits cover a 3.5m layer of wind-blown sand. An assesment is recommended to clarify the nature and date of the deposits, to investigate the nature of the midden and possible remains and to investigate the possibility that the mound may be associated with a farmstead of medieval or earlier date.

Moore and Wilson, 1998

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey

Field Visit (13 May 2015)


The modern farm sitting on the mound is in the process of being renovated. Very recent dumping of sand along the coast edge obscures any archaeological deposits, and other areas of the coastal side of the mound are well vegetated. As the farm is being renovated and the area is being actively maintained with dumping over the coast edge and ad hoc coastal defence, the archaeological deposits in the mound are less vulnerable to destruction by erosion.

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


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