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Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Faray

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Fara

Canmore ID 3184

Site Number HY53NW 1

NGR HY 5274 3797

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

HY53NW 1 5274 3797

HY 5274 3797 ) Brough (NR) (Site of)

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

An Orkney-Cromarty-type short horned cairn with a stalled chamber. It has been greatly reduced and disturbed and is now turf-covered but with a finer shorter growth than the surrounding area, which shows up the horns and indicates the area of cairn material, although the actual edge of the mound is indefinite. The body of the cairn has been circular with a diameter of about 46' and there have probably been four horns, pointing NW, NE, SW, SE of which three are still traceable.

The horn to the NE is most definite and rises c6" above ground level. It appears to be about 6' wide, 17' long, square-ended and curving slightly towards the east.

The horns to the SE and SW are now mere stumps about 7' and 5' long but perfectly evident. The NW horn cannot now be seen but there are three slabs set in line running from the body of the cairn towards the NW and set at a lower level than the stones of the chamber, presumably part of some secondary structure.

The body of the cairn stands up to 4' high, but it has been howked in the centre where the divisional stones of the stalled chamber, at least 15' long and running ENE-WSW, are exposed.

The remains of the entrance passage are no longer to be seen, but what appeared to be part of it was noted in 1928.

At its inner end lay a kitchen midden deposit as well as a large quantity of burnt material and animal bones, and several pottery fragments, some of them decorated, which are now lost.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928; A S Henshall 1963.

A short, horned chambered cairn generally as described and planned by Henshall. In the NW arc is a slightly curving trench which is presumably what RCAHMS refer to as the entrance passage, but it is more likely an excavation trench.

Surveyed at 1/2500

Visited by OS (RL) 28 June 1970.

In 1983 the SE 'horn' could not be traced, and in view of the known interference with the cairn, some caution is felt in interpreting the other two as horns of a horned cairn. The SW 'horn' projects only 1.5m from the cairn edge and might be explained as dump from the chamber exploration The bank projecting from the NE for about 5m, is possibly part of an old enclosure (not otherwise visible) associated with the occupation indicated by the row of three slabs on the NW side of the cairn and the midden recorded at their SE end. These slabs flank the SW side of a hollow running into the centre of the cairn, a feature which the RCAM misleadingly suggests may have been the entrance passage into the chamber. The hollow was probably made when the chamber was explored by islanders many years before 1928. (Confirmed by A S Henshall).

Visited by OS (JLD) 1983.

By the shore at the N end of Faray is an Orkney-Cromarty horned cairn with a stalled chamber. Corrie in 1928 sketched it and spoke to one of the islanders who had dug into its centre many years ago. Three of the four horns are still traceable, and the chamber, aligned ENE-WSW, was at least 4.5m long. A presumed entrance-passage had contained a kitchen-midden deposit with burnt material, animal bones, and pottery, suggesting a secondary use.

D Fraser 1982; RCAHMS 1984 (visited May 1981).


Field Visit (31 August 1928)

No. 254. Chambered Cairn (stalled), N. end of Fara.

Though marked on the OS map as a broch site, this monument seems much more likely to have been a chambered cairn of the stalled variety. It was excavated many years ago by some of the islanders, one of whom states that there was no trave of any regular construction beyond some very large stones set on edge with the major axis N and S, transversely to the entrance. Of these stones four are still in position, and the intervals between them are respectively 4ft 8in, 4ft 10in, and 4ft 1in. Otherwise the remains are little better than a scattered heap from 40 to 45ft in diameter. What appears to have been the entrance passage is slightly curved and about 2ft 6in wide. At its inner end a considerable kitchen-midden deposit was observed, as well as a large quantity of burnt material and animal bones, and several pottery fragments, some of them decorated.

Lxxx (“Brough, Site of”). 31 August 1928.

Orkney Smr Note (1981)

An Orkney Cromarty short horned cairn with stalled chamber,

much reduced and disturbed, grass-covered, but with finer, shorter

growth which shows up horns and indicates otherwise indeterminate

limits of cairn. Body has been circular, about 46ft diameter,

with probably 4 horns of which 3 are traceable. NE horn most

definite, 6ft wide, 17ft long, square-ended and curving slightly

towards the E. SE and SW horns are stumps 7ft and 5ft long but

perfectly evident. NW horn not visible, but threee slabs in line

running from the cairn stones, presumably part of some secondary

structure. Body of cairn stands up to 4ft high, but it is howked

into at centre where stall-stones of a chamber at least 15ft long,

aligned ENE-WSW, are exposed. The remains of the entrance passage

mentioned by RCAMS are not visible. [R3]

Visited, D Fraser & E J Brundle May 81, [R4]

Information from Orkney SMR


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