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North Ronaldsay, Tor Ness

Cairn(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name North Ronaldsay, Tor Ness

Classification Cairn(S) (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 3640

Site Number HY75NE 2

NGR HY 756 553

NGR Description Centred HY 756 553

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/3640

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY75NE 2 centred 756 553

See also HY75NE 3.

A number of small rings of stones, usually measuring 9' in external diameter and rising only about 6" above ground lie on very rough stony ground showing little depth of soil on Tor Ness (HY 756 553) The stones have been carefully placed and occasionally bear marks of fire recalling those found in larger mounds of prehistoric date. The constructions can hardly be very modern as old residents on the neighbouring farms could offer no information regarding their date or purpose.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928.

Centred at HY 756 551, in an area of rough grazing, are eleven, turf-covered, stony mounds varying from 3.0m to 12.0m in diameter, and from 0.1m to 0.7m in height. Some have hollowed centres, and one (B) has an upright slab in its centre, oriented NE-SW and measuring 1.2m long and 0.4m high. There is no sign of rings of stones around them as stated by RCAHM.

Visited by OS (NKB), 20 July 1970.

With the purpose of determining their nature two of the mounds (A & C) were opened with the assistance of the farmer at Nether Linay.

'A' - c3.5m in diameter, was found to consist of a heap of flat stones and earth laid on the old clay surface with no trace of interment. There was no surrounding ring of stones as stated by RCAHMS.

Several stones at the top of the mound were blackened, possibly by a fire on its summit.

'C' - c8.5m in diameter was of the same nature as 'A', but near the centre were two stones 0.5m & 0.7m long set an inch or two into the clay in the shape of an L with the short arm to the N and the longer arm to the E - 7. Unable to classify.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (AA), 23 July 1970.

Activities

Field Visit (27 August 1996)

The Ness was surveyed by JD Sept 1996 - see separate report [a copy may be available from the Orkney SMR] for details. The land is common, and is reported never to have been ploughed, although the turf is exceedingly thin and it is possible that the turf has been stripped from the area in the past. Sheep graze the area at present. The cairns are in fairly good condition although are vulnerable due to the thinness of the turf. There is a good variety of cairn types and other features represented. There are five very similar and closely grouped small cairns. RGL reported four in this group.

Tor Ness 1: HY 75620 55100. Cairn, diam 3m. Height 0.2m. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 2: HY 75730 55020. Cairn, diam 10m. Height 0.4m. Not prominent in the landscape.

Tor Ness 3: HY 75760 55080. Cairn, diam 3m. Height 0.15m. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 4: HY 75780 55100. Cairn, diam 2.5m. Height 0.3m. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 5: HY 75820 55050. This structure looks more like burnt mound, cresent shape, burnt stone matrix. Probably the stone uprights reflect the structure within. Height 0.8-1m. Stones and cist visible. Located in a dip on the slope towards the sea.

Tor Ness 6: HY 75830 55000. Cairn, diam 7m. Height 0.2m. Located in a dip on the slope towards the sea.

Tor Ness 10: HY 75610 55250. Cairn, diam 10m. Height 0.6m. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 13: HY 75620 55090. Cairn, diam 3m. Height 0.2m. Some stone structure visible. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 14: HY 75610 55100. Cairn, diam 3m. Height 0.2m. Some stone structure visible. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 15: HY 75610 55110. Cairn, diam 3m. Height 0.2m. Some stone structure visible. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Tor Ness 16: HY 75600 55120. Cairn, diam 2m. Height 0.2m. Some stone structure visible. Visible for up to 2km to south and east.

Orkney Smr Note (1998)

Eleven turfed stony mounds 3-12m diameter 0.1-0.7m high,

some with hollowed centres, one has upright slab in centre

alignment NE-SW, 1.2m long, 0.4m high. No sign of rings of

stones around them. Two of them excavated with help of Nether

Linay farmer. One 3.5m dia, found to consist of a heap of flat

stones and earth laid on old clay surface, no sign of an

interment. No surrounding ring of stones. Several stones at top

of mound fire-blackened. The other mound, 8.5m dia, was similar,

but near its centre were 2 stones 0.5m and 0.7m long set into the

clay in the shape of an L with the short arm to the N end and

longer arm to the E. Unable to classify. OS visit Jul 70.

A group of barely perceptible mounds on the flat tract of

springy, close-cropped turf outwith the sheep dyke. Possibly

remains of a complex like those of the Sanday nesses but very

heavily robbed, every possible stone having been taken for the

building and maintenance of the sheep dyke. The cairns are as

follows:-

HY 7562 5510 - Four cairn-bases, diameter 3.5m height

0.3m, each consisting of carefully-laid quarried blocks around

rim with edge-laid small slabs packed together as core.

HY 7573 5502 - a larger mound with depression in it

suggesting excavation, diameter now about 10m, probably the

second cairn excavated by OS.

HY 7576 5508 & HY 7578 5510, smaller cairns resembling

the first group described above.

HY 7582 5505 is that described by OS as containing an

upright slab.

HY 7583 5500 - middle-sized, very gentle rise so

diameter hard to assess, has core of edge-laid small slabs.

HY 7580 5530 - another small one.

HY 7563 5520 - a small, gentle rise, diameter

indeterminate, a rabbit burrow in top shows edge slabs laid at

right angles.

HY 7554 5517 - a gentle rise on the top of the shore

banks, a few edge stones visible in it look like cairn core.

HY 7557 5525 - a small cairn.

HY 7570 5544 - a small heap of loose stones which are

larger than the stones in the above cairns. As it is at the

highest point of Tor Ness it may be the remains of a sea-mark

cairn. However, nearby at HY 7569 5547 is a smaller mound very

like it but with its stones earthfast.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Jul 79, cf OR 399 and refs.

EDM survey was undertaken at this headland in September 1996. A survey report has been lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor - Historic Scotland

J Downes DES 1998

References

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