Ancient Monuments

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The Manse, chambered cairn and church 330m WNW of, Eday

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.1762 / 59°10'34"N

Longitude: -2.7711 / 2°46'16"W

OS Eastings: 356021

OS Northings: 1032415

OS Grid: HY560324

Mapcode National: GBR M4JG.TH5

Mapcode Global: WH7B8.DMNB

Entry Name: The Manse, chambered cairn and church 330m WNW of, Eday

Scheduled Date: 10 October 1936

Last Amended: 20 October 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1252

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Eday

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument comprises the remains of a Maeshowe-type chambered cairn dating from the Neolithic period (between around 3500 and 2500 BC), together with an adjacent ruined 19th-century church and its enclosure wall.

The remains of the cairn are spread over an area roughly rectangular in shape measuring approximately 40m NNE-SSW by 18m transversely. Originally the cairn would have comprised a central passageway, with chambers or cells leading off to the sides, and the whole sealed with a substantial covering of stones. The cairn was extensively robbed in the early 19th century, and the stone was re-used to build a United Presbyterian church immediately to the N. The cairn was partly investigated in 1860 by a local antiquarian, Robert J Hebden, which led to the recovery of part of a large slab decorated with spirals and rings pecked into its surface (now in the National Museum of Scotland), sherds from a pottery urn and flint flakes. The other half of the decorated stone was reportedly used as a lintel in the church, but there is no sign of it today. The church was erected in 1831 and was in use for less than 30 years before being abandoned. It is visible now as the remains of the N and E walls, which stand almost 4m high, and the ruined vestry projecting from the N wall. Its footprint measures 14.5m E-W by 8.4m transversely. Both the church and cairn are enclosed by a low stone dyke, which probably also incorporates stone from the chambered cairn. The monument is situated on the N shoulder of Chapel Hill at 50m above sea level, overlooking Eday Sound. The monument was originally scheduled in 1936, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

The scheduled area is almost rectangular on plan, approximately 72m N-S by 53m transversely, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular the design and construction of burial monuments, and the nature of belief systems and burial practices in Neolithic Orkney. Despite previous disturbance to the site, there is good potential for the survival of important archaeological deposits within, beneath and around the remains of the cairn and church, including human burials, artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence. The significance of the monument is enhanced because this is a rare form of chambered cairn, unique to Orkney, and an unusual example of its class. In Orkney, chambered cairns are an important component of the wider prehistoric landscape and can inform our understanding of land-use and social organisation. The church is of interest in its own right, but is also important because of the potential information it contains about the use and working of building stone in prehistoric times, and because of the potential to recover further prehistoric carved ornament on one or more of the stones in the fabric of the church. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the meaning and importance of death and burial in prehistoric times and the placing of chambered cairns within the landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Other information

RCAHMS records the site as HY53SE 7.


Barber J, 1997, The excavation of a stalled cairn at the Point of Cott, Westray, Orkney. Scottish Trust for Archaeological Reports (STAR) monog 1, Edinburgh.

Davidson, J L and Henshall, A S 1989, The chambered cairns of Orkney: an inventory of the structures and their contents, Edinburgh, 116-7.

Henshall, A S 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol 1, Edinburgh, 198, ORK 16.

PSAS 1863, 'Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library with exhibits', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 4, 185-6.

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, 62, no 225.

Ritchie A 2009, On the fringe of Neolithic Europe: excavation of a chambered cairn on the Holm of Papa Westray, Orkney. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland monog ser, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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