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


Sanday, Rethie Taing

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible)

Site Name Sanday, Rethie Taing

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible)

Canmore ID 3532

Site Number HY64SE 39

NGR HY 65123 44241

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Cross And Burness
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

The remains of a large, probably round, stoney mound, reduced on the E or landward side by ploughing, and on the W by coastal erosion. It measures c26.5m NNE-SSW, and now only c9.0m transversely; 0.7-1.2m high.

On the W side is part of a wide passage aligned ESE-WNW. Its walls are 1m apart, 0.4m high and exposed for a length of 1.7m. Some 4,2 and 11.0m to the N of this passage, howking has revealed some courses of flat slabs forming no obvious pattern which may be no more than part of the core of the cairn. (Confirmed by A S Henshall).

Visited by OS (JLD) 14 May 1983.


Field Visit (June 1979)

A knoll prominently sited on end of a blunt headland; the shore dyke runs across the top of it. Examination of exposed parts shows it to be a cairn of packed stones, approx. semicircular with its straight face formed by the eroded shore face. In the pasture field within the shore dyke the cairn, 0.9m high, has a very definite, steep edge with many stones showing, possibly a revetment although the steepness may be accentuated by

old ploughing. Maximum diameter of cairn (measured in straight line along shore face) is 26m. Outside the dyke, just above the shore, at about the central point of the straight of the semicircle, a length of passage is exposed running at right angles to the shore i.e. radially to the centre of the mound.

The passage is 970mm wide and the walls stand 0.4m high above debris in the passage. Direction of the passage is NW-SE and its visible length 1.6m, constructed with well-masoned drystone walls using quarried stone. Undoubtly a chambered cairn, probably of Maeshowe type.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Jun 79.

Note (1980)

Opposite Rethie Taing, Sanday HY 6511 4424 HY64SE

A prominently sited knoll on end of a blunt headland; mound at least 26m diameter, possibly revetted on surviving land side; sea side eroded exposing well-built entrance passage running radially into mound.


(OR 140)

Field Visit (1999)

A grassy mound which lies on the coast edge has been damaged by erosion. It appears to have been originally circular or sub-circular and about 25m in diameter. The mound is prominently sited on a natural knoll, on a short headland. It extends, beneath a drystone wall, into a cultivated field and has been truncated by ploughing. On the seaward side, the erosion face is uneven and overgrown but sections of walling and part of a probable passage are visible. The passage is about 1m wide; its walls stand up to 0.4m high and can be traced into the mound for 1.6m. Ref.: RCAHMS (1980), #4.

Moore & Wilson 1999.

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey, 1999


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