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Corrigall, Nessbreck

Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Site Name Corrigall, Nessbreck

Classification Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 296137

Site Number HY31NW 104

NGR HY 325 190

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Birsay And Harray
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney


Excavation (8 May 2007 - 25 May 2007)

HY 325 190 A souterrain site was found after two small holes appeared when part of the N end of the roof collapsed during cultivation. Due to the likelihood of further collapse a rescue excavation was initiated by Historic Scotland and work was undertaken between 8-25 May 2007. Prior to excavation a geophysical survey of the area immediately surrounding the collapse was undertaken. An area 60 x 60m centred over the area of collapse was covered by a gradiometer survey. The results revealed a concentration of anomalies surrounding the site towards the NW, with less indication of activity where the ground sloped down to the W and SW.

The excavation revealed a rock-cut chamber, c2.5m E–W by 2.80m N–S and 1.12m deep, with a stone-flagged roof supported on four stone pillars c0.6m high. Incorporated into the roof were two large notched flags placed back-to-back, each having a pair of notches on one side. Most of the chamber was an open void except for the SW corner, which had been stacked to the roof with rubble. The chamber had been accessed via a short sloping entrance passage from the SE that entered the middle of the chamber, 0.62m (base) to 0.86m (top) wide by 0.83m high and 1.5m long. This passage had been blocked by tipping dumps of ashy silt and stones and rubble.

In the area above and surrounding the chamber there were several features including a rock-cut, jelly-bean-shaped pit to the NW backfilled with ash and charcoal, 1.56m SE-NW by 0.74m and 0.57m deep; a large rock cut, oval pit, 1.40m NE-SW by 1.14m and 0.4m deep in the SW with a large flag in the base; and a curving gully (0.5–0.7m wide), also rock-cut, that ran along the S side of the chamber. A number of patches of burnt clay were dotted around the area surrounding the chamber.

Few finds were retrieved, though a number of Early Iron Age sherds were recovered from the backfill of the passage and the area to the N of the chamber. Stone objects included a stone hammer from inside the chamber and a stone handle from outside the entrance. Two flints were also recovered from the area immediately N of the chamber. A decorated stone and two stones exhibiting heavy tooling were recovered from the rubble filling the SW corner of the chamber and two pieces of pumice were found in the deposits blocking the entrance.

Archive to be deposited with RCAHMS.

Funder: Historic Scotland.


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