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Burray, Hillock Of Fea

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Cairn (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Midden (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Burray, Hillock Of Fea

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Cairn (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Midden (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 9581

Site Number ND49NE 7

NGR ND 4929 9557

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish South Ronaldsay
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

ND49NE 7 4929 9557.

(ND 4929 9557) Hillock of Fea (NAT) Brough (NR) (Site of) Human Remains found AD 1865 (NAT)

OS 6" map (1900)

Orkney SMR Reference: OR 1783, OR 2722

Hillock of Fea, the site of an indeterminate structure almost completely destroyed. What little of it remains is obscured by thick turf. Traces of a very small kitchen-midden deposit were observed on the SW where the OS map notes "Human Remains found". The latter consists of a human skull, and bones of left arm complete together, with detached portions of a human skeleton (Name Book 1879).

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1929

"Hillock of Fea", (possibly a cairn) is a turf-covered stoney mound c.20.0m NE - SW and 16.0m NW-SE, and 2.0m high with five or six earthfast stones are visible around the W arc. A large segment of the mound in the SE has been destroyed by coastal erosion, revealing a loose stony/sandy interior.

The mound stands on a slight platform, defined on the landward wide by traces of a curving wall, and a plough headland both of which are comparatively recent. Exposed in the shore some 12m to the SW are traces of dry-stone walling and a small midden of shells and bones.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (IMT) 17 May 1973

ND 492 955 Hillock of Fea: cairn, denuded, prehistoric.

ND 492 955 Anthropogenic deposits visible in erosion face, probably prehistoric.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Orkney Archaeological Trust

G Wilson and H Moore 1997

'The Orcadian' in 1909 describes how this "Picts' House" was well preserved, despite the site being robbed for building material. The site showed traces of three circling walls.

M Howe 2006


Orkney Smr Note (1992)

The mound described and measured by OS is the central feature of a more extensive site comprising a broad platform some 35m E-W by 25m, and probably extending into the ploughed field on the N. The curving wall is detectable both to E and W of the central mound, which probably contains a broch, although one of less than average diameter. The central mound itself appears intact, not yet subject to erosion, but at the W end, the enclosing wall or rampart is seen in section, with with immediately W of it, an exposure of midden material and rubble within which 2 layers of flagstones (separated by rubble)can be made out, representing 2 successive floor levels of a building which is probably secondary to the rampart. Above here at surface the indefinite outline of another secondary building is tentatively identifiable. Here and there about the whole platform are occasional earthfast erect slabs, probably remains of further outbuildings.

Information from Orkney SMR (J. Gibson) 1992

Field Visit (August 1997)

This site, previously described (RCAHMS, 1929, ii #865) as having been almost completely destroyed, is visible as an artificial mound, situated on a natural rise and located immediately behind the coast edge. It is amorphous, measuring 15m by 16m approximately and standing up to 3.5m high. The centre is depressed and appears disturbed. Smaller hollowed areas on the periphery of the mound also suggest disturbance. A quantity of structural stone is visible in the sides of a large pit cut into the highest point of the mound - the pit is of recent origin and may have held a fence post. An exposure to the seaward side of the mound contains an edge-set slab and some smaller stones. This site is here classified as a cairn on the basis of its size and form - there is no direct evidence of any burials being found within it. Given, however, that the site was said to have been almost completely destroyed by 1929, it may be that the remains now visible are unrepresentative and thus any classification must be regarded as speculative.

Moore and Wilson, 1997

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey

Field Visit (1997)

Anthropoenic deposits are exposed over 8m in the coastal section. At the base of the section, a quantity of slabs forming a flat surface, which is covered by an accumulation of soil containing frequent shell and bone fragments. The second and third levels of stone are separated by stoney brash which contains small fragments of burnt bone. This exposure is located to the immediate SW of the Hillock of Fea (OR 1783) and may be associated with it.

Similar deposits were noted by RCAHMS in 1929 and OS in 1973, although in both cases the deposits were described as part of the adjacent cairn, OR 1783. The 1929 record notes the presence of kitchen-midden in a location where human remains had been found previously. The 1973 record noted drystone walling, shell and bone deposits in the erosion face to the SW of the cairn. Since no direct relationship could be established between the eroding deposits and the cairn during this survey, they have been described separately.

Moore and Wilson, 1997

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey


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