Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Little Barnhouse, mound, 160m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in West Mainland, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 58.9862 / 58°59'10"N

Longitude: -3.2153 / 3°12'54"W

OS Eastings: 330251

OS Northings: 1011645

OS Grid: HY302116

Mapcode National: GBR L4FZ.FTR

Mapcode Global: WH69W.LD4F

Entry Name: Little Barnhouse, mound, 160m NE of

Scheduled Date: 23 January 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10233

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: mound (ritual or funerary)

Location: Stenness

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: West Mainland

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument consists of a large turf-covered mound, which is recorded as containing a chamber accessed by a passage. Resistivity survey has located a geophysical anomaly, which may correspond to the chamber, and a possible ditch feature encircling the mound.

The mound measures approximately 50m N-S by 42m E-W and stands up to about 4m in height. The mound profile is gently convex with a slightly flattened summit. No other features are visible. The field was last ploughed for improvement in the 1970s but the farmer deliberately excluded the mound from the ploughing. The chamber is first recorded in an itinerary published in 1899. This report refers to its discovery some four years earlier.

Geophysical survey in 2001 has shown that the mound is encircled by what appears to be a substantial ditch and a distinct anomaly towards the northern end of the summit of the mound is likely to represent the chamber. The northern edge of the mound is thought to have been removed when the road was first made.

The area to be scheduled is roughly circular, flattened on its N side where it abuts the road. It has maximum dimensions of 70m E-W by 55m N-S, to include the mound, the probable ditch and a surrounding area in which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The boundary wall adjacent to the road is excluded from the schedule.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The site is of national importance as a prehistoric burial monument, probably a chambered cairn. As well as the 19th century discovery of a chamber and passage, recent geophysical survey has indicated the presence of a surrounding ditch. The site has the potential to provide important evidence about prehistoric ritual and burial practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HY 31 SW 24.


RCAHMS (1946) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v, Edinburgh, 317-8.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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