Ancient Monuments

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Breckness House and site of chapel

A Scheduled Monument in Stromness and South Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 58.9641 / 58°57'50"N

Longitude: -3.3496 / 3°20'58"W

OS Eastings: 322484

OS Northings: 1009324

OS Grid: HY224093

Mapcode National: GBR L531.6CJ

Mapcode Global: WH69T.JY6G

Entry Name: Breckness House and site of chapel

Scheduled Date: 17 July 1959

Last Amended: 1 December 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1487

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel; Secular: house

Location: Stromness

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: Stromness and South Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument comprises the 17th-century Breckness House and the earlier remains of a chapel and associated burials, which in part overlie a prehistoric settlement. They are situated on the SW coast of Mainland Orkney, about 3 km due W of the modern settlement of Stromness. The monument was first scheduled in 1957, but the scheduling was mislocated and an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

Breckness House was built in 1633 by Bishop Graham, the last bishop of Orkney. It is a substantial L-shaped house and much of the two-storey building survives, although it is suffering from the usual processes of decay. It is presumed that there was originally also an attic in the roof. The masonry is of rubble, clay-built and harl-pointed with dressings of freestone.

The building's entrance, above which was an armorial panel (now in Skaill House), is in the E wall. Immediately inside the building are a straight staircase and openings to the kitchen wing and the ground floor chambers. The kitchen, which was apparently subdivided at a later date, contains aumbries, a fireplace and sink. The first ground floor chamber has a fireplace and windows; the second, larger, chamber was originally entered from the kitchen. In a later period an external doorway was cut into its S wall. Originally a closet under the stairs could also be entered from this larger chamber.

The upper floor of the wing consists of a single room with a garderobe. The upper floor of the main block consists of two chambers. To the S of the house the remains of an enclosure, probably a garden, are visible. Buildings associated with an adjacent later steading have been built up against the NW wall of the house.

A low mound to the S of the House is interpreted as a chapel, and E-W burials have been noted in the adjacent coastal section. The broch which partially underlies this site is not being scheduled in its entirety or in its own right because the remains are very eroded.

The area to be scheduled is sub-rectangular on plan and measures a maximum of 100m from E-W by 70m from N-S, to include Breckness House, the site of the chapel and an area around in which associated remains may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. All above-ground 19th-century structures and field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling with the exception of the structures which are directly attached to the NW side of the house.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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