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Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

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


Shapinsay, Hacksness

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Shapinsay, Hacksness

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Haco's Ness

Canmore ID 3108

Site Number HY51SW 5

NGR HY 5218 1491

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 Shapinsay
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY51SW 5 5218 1491.

(HY 5218 1491) Cairn (NAT)

OS 6-inch map, (Orkney), 1903

This seems to be the site of a prehistoric structure rather than a cairn, but the remains are so slight and indefinite that it is no longer possible to determine its character. A burial is said to have been found here or hereabouts some years ago.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928.

The remains of an Orkney-Cromarty type chambered cairn, robbed to build the modern walls which overlie it. It is marked by an amorphous turf-grown stony area, indicating a diameter of at least 10.0m, with the tops of five slabs and also the back slab of a tripartite chamber showing through the debris. The tallest slab is 1.2m high and is incorporated in situ in the modern wall for which it acts as a brace. The entrance has been from the NE. At one point can be seen traces of dry walling which may be part of the original chamber wall.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS(AA) 3 October 1972

The site is generally as described, but the following observations are made:

Under the modern wall is an arc of chamber walling its E end resting on the shoulder of the easternmost orthostat, its W end butting against the next orthostat. Three courses of the wall can be seen 0.4m in height. About 5m E of the chamber orthostats a seventh small upright slab just shows through the turf. This stone might mark the entry into the passage.

Along the NW side the cairn edge, although indistinct, can be traced as a straight line for a distance of about 21m. Parallel to this edge and some 3.5m within it, a length of wall-face, 2 courses high, is exposed for 3.6m. Cairn material remains to a height of 1.5m around the NW side of the chamber. The direction of this wall-face and cairn edge traceable to about 1m beyond the end of the wall which overlies the chamber, hint at the former presence of a horned forecourt at the NE end of the cairn. Along the SE side and NE end the cairn fades into the surrounding turf, and the edge cannot be defined. All these features suggest a long cairn. (Confirmed by A S Henshall).

Visited by OS(JLD) 19 May 1981

By the shore at Haco's Ness three definite and two less certain upright slabs, protruding from a mound at least 10m in diameter, appear to indicate the chamber of a tomb of Orkney-Cromarty type. The massive back-slab of the chamber and a short length of the wall-face of the chamber can be seen beneath modern field dykes.

Corrie's field notebook of 1928 states in connection with this cairn that ' a skull was found here some years ago'. In the Inventory (RCAHMS 1946), quoting the same date of visit, 'a burial' is said 'to have been found here or hereabouts'. There is therefore uncertainty whether the discovery had been a separate burial, and doubt as to its association with the cairn.

RCAHMS notebook No.4, 10 September 1928; RCAHMS 1946, additonal to No.797

RCAHMS 1987, visited November 1984


Orkney Smr Note (November 1984)

Generally as described. The slabs on the SE side are much

more dubious than those on the NW. It seems that a lot more

stone debris from the modern dyke has accumulated since 1972.

The big back slab is now exposed only to a height of 0.7m. No

erosion-exposure because the modern dyke along the shoreline acts

as a revetement.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Nov 84.


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