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Sanday, Augmund Howe

Cairn (Prehistoric)

Site Name Sanday, Augmund Howe

Classification Cairn (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Egmondshowe, Elsness; Egmond's Howe; Els Ness

Canmore ID 3407

Site Number HY63NE 3

NGR HY 67656 37531

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY63NE 3 6765 3754.

(HY 6765 3754) Augmund Howe (NR)

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

A cairn, largely destroyed by robbing and by the sea, but may have been about 60' in diameter. It has a maximum height of 5'. No wall-faces or other signs of careful construction are visible but where core-stones are exposed they are laid on bed as if they had formed part of a built structure, which Wainwright, judging by the mass of stones at the centre, suggests may be a chamber. He also suggests that it may have been used as a noust. (Information contained in a letter from Dr Wood to OS).

According to the NSA the name 'Augmund's (locally pronounced 'Egmond's') Howe' properly belongs to HY63NE 1.

New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928 and 1935; F W Wainwright, Orkney Survey Mss 1960.

The E part of this cairn is eroded away by the sea. The surviving W half measures 23.0m N-S along the eroded face, by c11.0m transversely and 2.2m high. The stones "laid on bed", which are exposed in the excavated centre are corestones and there is no definite indication of a chamber. It is doubtful if it has been used as a noust. The name Augmund Howe is not known locally. The cairn is probably associated with a surrounding bank (See HY63NE 5).

(For a similar arrangement see HY45SE 19).

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 9 July 1970.

The exposures do not suggest that the cairn was chambered. (Confirmed by A S Henshall).

Visited by OS (JLD) 14 May 1983.

HY 676 375 (centre) EDM survey was undertaken at this site near Quoyness in September 1996. The site comprises a large field of 18 mounds (including NMRS HY63NE 3, HY63NE 5, HY63NE 6 ), and a chain of 11 mounds linked by a dyke which surround the probable chambered cairn at Egmondshowe.

Since the survey was undertaken, the Scheduled area has been enlarged to take in the chain of mounds.

A survey report has been lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

J Downes 1998.


Orkney Smr Note (July 1970)

Augmund Howe on map, but locally pronounced Egmondshowe, presumably from personal name Ogmundr. Intrusive s probably due to recognition of Egmond as a personal name.


Augmund Howe - a burgh or fort in ruins and overgrown with grass and weeds, situated close to the beach and surrounded to landward by a circle of upright stones. On the E side where the ground is low, there is a semi-circular terrace, the outer edge of which is formed also by stones set upright. Height of fort is

about 18ft. [R1], Cf OR 307.

Much damage by stone-robbing. No wall-faces or signs of careful construction visible. [R2]

[RCAMS erroneously claims that NSA misapplies the name Augmund Howe to the Quoyness Chambered Cairn, but in fact NSA subsequently describes Quoyness under that name, and the descriptions of Augmund Howe and Quoyness fit the two sites very well. Henshall however incorrectly gives the name Egmondshowe as

an alternative name for the Quoyness Tomb, so does Childe]. Much damaged by stone-robbing. See OR 308 and refs.

East part of cairn eroded away by sea. The surviving west half measures 23m N-S along eroded face x 11m x 2.2m high. Stones laid on bed exposed in excavated centre, are core stones, and there is no definite indication of a chamber. It is doubtful if it has been used as a noost. The name Augmund Howe is not known locally. Cairn is probably associated with a surrounding bank.

OS visit Jul 70, [R3].

Field Visit (June 1979)

As described. One short length of inward-facing wall-face is visible on the south arc on the seaward side.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Jun 79.

Note (1980)

Egmondshowe, Sanday HY 6765 3754 HY63NE 3

Marwick records this as the pronunciation although the map form 'Augmund Howe' would be linguistically preferable. The New Statistical Account makes very clear that it is not an alternative name for the Quoyness cairn nearby (HY63NE 1). A probable chambered cairn on the shore edge, in 1820s was a mound 5.5m (18 ft) high, but has been severely attacked and its centre has been scoured out by the sea.


(NSA, xv, Orkney, 136; Marwick 1923a, 24; RCAHMS 1946, ii, p. 169, No. 450; Wainwright MS 1960; OR 306)

Field Visit (1999)

This cairn is located on the coast edge and has suffered considerable damage from coastal erosion. The original dimensions are unknown; it is now sub-oval in shape, measuring 8m by 20m. It stands up to 3m high, above bedrock. The eastern side has been severely damaged by the sea; quantities of stony core material are exposed and eroding in the banks and there are occasional hints of structural stone. The western side has been damaged by cattle poaching. There was some suggestion of recent amateur digging within the body of the mound at the time of this visit. This site requires urgent attention; investigation of the remaining portion may at least provide a ground plan, a date, a summary of the stratigraphy and may determine if there was a central chamber. Ref.: NSA (1845), Vol 15, 136; Marwick, H (1923) 'Antiquarian Notes on Sanday', POAS, 1 (1922-3), 21-9; RCAHMS (1946) # 450; RCAHMS (1980) #1.

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey, 1999


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