Accessibility

Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Calf Of Eday

Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Calf Of Eday

Classification Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 3152

Site Number HY53NE 19

NGR HY 5790 3864

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/3152

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY53NE 19 5790 3864

See also HY53NE 18.

(HY 5792 3865) Standing Stones (NR).

OS 6" map, Orkney, 1st ed., (1882).

(HY 5789 3866) Standing Stones (NR).

OS 6" map, Orkney, 2nd ed., (1900).

A complex, excavated by Calder in 1936 and 1938, and found to consist of a Jarlshof-type round-house, which Hamilton dates to about the 6thc BC, later Iron Age dwellings and a structure of unknown date.

The round-house lay beneath the returned end of a later wall which ran 32 yds NE from HY53NE 18 , and before excavation, it appeared as a single stone ('A' on RCAHMS 1946, Plan, fig.124), rising 2'6" above the surface of a hollow scooped out of a low grass-covered mound. It measured 38' to 41' in diameter over walls 7' to 8' thick. Stratification suggested two periods of occupation, and the quantity of pottery from both layers, as well as a variety of clays, suggested that this had been a potter's workshop, although this was not its original purpose.

The sherds, mostly of coarse, straight-sided vessels, resembled in general shape the Late Bronze Age wares of Jarlshof (HU30NE 1), and Clickhimin (HU44SE 2). Two rim fragments of carinated bowls however, were characteristic of the Early Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof and of the farmstead of Clickhimin. Finds also included saddle-querns and rude stone implements.

Only 7' SE of the round-house lay a cluster of presumably later Iron Age dwellings, thinner walled and of inferior workmanship which represented two periods of occupation, the earlier being recognisable only by the remains of two hearths and portions of paved floors. Pottery and rude stone implements were scarcer than in the round-house. The pottery was thinner and of a harder texture, but the implements were much the same. This settlement probably extended further south as indicated by the grass-covering as opposed to the surrounding peat and heather, but trenching revealed no trace of actual building.

On the north the buildings extend into a hollow which is presumed to be another chamber (see RCAHMS 1946 plan). On the NE they impinge on a low mound, in the centre of which excavation revealed what may have been the remains of a roughly rectangular dry-stone building, probably the latest of the complex, which measures at least 14' by 8'6" within walls 3' thick and 18" in maximum height. Slabs set on edge occurred within the building, while others set in the edge of the mound, which is mostly debris, suggested an earlier structure.

Almost in continuation of the grassy area in which the buildings lie, there is a smaller patch which extends for about 20 yds from the SE side of HY53NE 18 with a width of about 10 yds. Stripping of the turf in the centre revealed what appeared to be building stones, but no actual remains of walling.

Finds from the excavations were donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) by Major H H Hebden, Carrick House, Eday.

C S T Calder 1937; RCAHMS 1937; C S T Calder 1939; RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928; J R C Hamilton 1968.

All that can be seen of the round house is a disturbed turf-covered mound, c.9.0m in diameter, with one upright stone protruding to a height of 0.5m, but the remainder of the complex is as described and illustrated by Calder.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (AA) 23 July 1970.

This complex lies 30m uphill from the chambered tomb (RCAHMS 1984, No.64) and was investigated by Calder in 1936 and 1938. There was previously little surface indication of the structures, and much apparently remains undiscovered beyond the limits of excavation. The main feature is a roundhouse 7.6m in internal diameter with short radial piers; much pottery was discovered. To the E an unexcavated hollow may represent another house of similar size. Beyond there are a partly excavated rectilinear structure, and an indeterminate area of paving. Both remain visible, but the roundhouse is overgrown and its features obscured. Visited May 1983

E W Mackie 1965; A C Renfrew 1979; finds in Tankerness House and in National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), HD668-708; RCAMS 1984.

HY 579 386 Geophysical survey using resistance survey and gradiometry was carried out in October 2006 over slightly less than 1ha. The survey was conducted with two aims; to test Calder's hypothesis that the Iron Age settlement continued to the SW and to investigate the possibility of further features associated with the re-used Neolithic chambered tomb. The survey did not detect any significant geophysical anomalies within the area proposed by Calder. However, it appears that archaeological deposits continue to the NW. Anomalies appear to suggest a large circular structure approximately 17m in diameter as well as a cluster of responses suggestive of further smaller structures and occupation debris, between the chambered tomb and the excavated portions of Iron Age settlement. Although the nature and strength of these results suggest a continuation of Iron Age occupation, as with all survey of this type it is impossible to ascertain stratigraphic relationships or dates of these new features. Distinct differences in the geophysical anomalies also highlighted the differences between the two chambers within the Neolithic tomb.

Archive lodged with Orkney College Geophysics Unit.

Sponsor: Orkney College.

Matt Jones and James Moore, 2006.

Activities

Publication Account (2002)

HY53 1 CALF OF EDAY

HY/578385

Settlement, probably of the early Iron Age, consisting of a roundhouse re-used as a potter's workshop and re-used chambers of a Neolithic cairn which lies on the small island of that name off the east shore of Eday itself.

In about 1936 C S T Calder investigated the group of ancient sites which lies at the south side of the islet. These included three Neolithic burial cairns (one being a multi-period stalled cairn) and two other structures which proved to belong to the Iron Age. Iron Age remains were also found inside one of the cairns. A reassessment of the later pottery shows that at least one of the Calf of Eday Iron Age sites very probably comprise another of those rare settlements in the northern islands which can be assigned to the early Iron Age, probably in the 7th/6th centuries BC and well before the broch period.

Structure 3

The mound containing Structure 3 was only partly explored (the west half) because of lack of time and turned out to contain an oval stone building which measured some 12.5 x 11.6 m (41 x 38 ft.) overall. The wall thickness was measurable at one point at 4.42 m (14 ft. 6 in.). Traces of at least two chambers within the thickness of this wall were found and the thickness behind these varied from 2.13 - 2.52 m (7 ft. to 8 ft. 3 in.); the stumps of two thin stones slabs were found in the western one. A single stone slab was projecting above the ground before work started and proved to be standing 1.60 m (5 ft. 3 in.) above the internal floor; it was fitted at right angles to the inner wallface is if to form the side of a smaller chamber between the other two mentioned. The north recess also had slabs in it, some of which lined its sides. A slab hearth was found in the central area.

Large amounts of pottery were recovered from the north recess. A pile of clay was found immediately to the north of the hearth. There was also a stone slab-lined pit with a clay base sunk into the floor and a stone mortar -- presumably for grinding the clay -- next to it. The excavator thought that all these features showed that the building had been turned into a potter's workshop at a later stage; presumably it had been a dwelling before that.

The pottery was different to that found in the chambered cairn (below). "Most of the sherds from Chamber B" (of the stalled cairn, below) "were thin and of good hard texture while those from Mound no. 3" (the house) "are coarse and thick, and many contain a much greater amount of crushed stone among the clay." [2, 147 and figs. 21 and 22]. Most of the rims are of simple barrel- and bucket-shaped urns and of some interest is the evidence for the construction of three of them. These vessels were built in rings, the upper edge of the ring below being made into a rounded wedge shape and fitted into a groove formed in the lower edge of the one above, the joint then being smoothed down [2, figs. 22 and 23]. Vessels made in this way often break along the joins of then rings, as was noted in the Everted Rim jars found at Dun Mor Vaul on Tiree (NM04 4).

Chambers A and B of the stalled cairn

"After the roof of the burial chamber (A) of the stalled cairn had disappeared and the interior had been partially filled up, judging from the pottery found at the higher level the chamber had been occupied by people of the Iron Age." [2, 143].

More plain Iron Age pottery was found in Chamber B and this included all the rims and bases drawn by Calder [2, fig. 20] except for no. 1 which is the decorated sherd from Chamber A. They included several rims and wall sherds of a high quality, hard, black, thin ware, bottom centre: EO 651A: it has a slipped grey surface) as well as some coarser sherds (not drawn).

Discussion

The only clear evidence for the date of this Iron Age settlement comes from the shouldered rim sherd HD 698 which is not specifically mentioned in Calder's report. It is of a hard, buff-grey ware with a concave neck above the shoulder and must surely be a version of the standard carinated early Iron Age pottery which is found in small quantities in Atlantic Scotland. Since it is catalogued 'HD' it presumably belongs with the sherd collection from the Neolithic cairn.

Sources: 1. OS card HY53 00: 2. Calder 1939.

E W MacKie 2002

Geophysical Survey (October 2006)

HY 579 386 Geophysical survey using resistance survey and gradiometry was carried out in October 2006 over slightly less than 1ha. The survey was conducted with two aims; to test Calder's hypothesis that the Iron Age settlement continued to the SW and to investigate the possibility of further features associated with the re-used Neolithic chambered tomb. The survey did not detect any significant geophysical anomalies within the area proposed by Calder. However, it appears that archaeological deposits continue to the NW. Anomalies appear to suggest a large circular structure approximately 17m in diameter as well as a cluster of responses suggestive of further smaller structures and occupation debris, between the chambered tomb and the excavated portions of Iron Age settlement. Although the nature and strength of these results suggest a continuation of Iron Age occupation, as with all survey of this type it is impossible to ascertain stratigraphic relationships or dates of these new features. Distinct differences in the geophysical anomalies also highlighted the differences between the two chambers within the Neolithic tomb.

Archive lodged with Orkney College Geophysics Unit.

Sponsor: Orkney College.

M Jones and J Moore 2006

References

MyCanmore Image Contributions


Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions