Ancient Monuments

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Diamond Cottage,defended promontory north of

A Scheduled Monument in West Mainland, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 58.9872 / 58°59'13"N

Longitude: -3.2495 / 3°14'58"W

OS Eastings: 328287

OS Northings: 1011789

OS Grid: HY282117

Mapcode National: GBR L4BZ.J5K

Mapcode Global: WH69W.1CXP

Entry Name: Diamond Cottage,defended promontory N of

Scheduled Date: 10 January 1994

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5871

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort); Prehistoric ritual and

Location: Stenness

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: West Mainland

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument consists of a promontory on the S shore of the Loch of Stenness, enclosed by a double bank and ditch. It may be of either prehistoric or Viking date.

The fort is a flat promontory, lying a little above the waters of the loch. On the S and SE sides it is bounded by a double ditch and rampart. Both ditches are partially cut into bedrock, and the ramparts are apparently formed from the upcast. These features are best preserved on the E, where there is a clear entrance causeway near to the loch at the NE end of the circuit.

At this end the line of the rampart facing can be seen to continue some distance out into the loch. At the W end of the defences, past cultivation has reduced their profile. The enclosed area is almost featureless exept for a few scattered stones and some paved small areas which are possibly recent stack-bases.

The monument is capable of three interpretations: it may be a Neolithic ritual enclosure, akin to a henge; it may be an Iron Age defended settlement, or it may be a Viking "ness-taking", a primary settlement in the process of the colonisation of Orkney in the early ninth century AD.

The area to be scheduled is the NW end of the promontory, largely bounded to the S by a fence running WSW-ENE and on the E by a fence running NNW- SSE. It is bounded on the N and W by the shore of the Loch of Stenness. The area has maximum dimensions of 145m NNW-SSE by 95m, as marked in red on the accompanying map. All modern fences are excluded.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a rare example of a defended loch promontory. It is possible to advance three separate explanations of its date and purpose; without excavation none can be discounted, and the site should be preserved to permit further research. As a Neolithic ritual enclosure it would form part of the Stenness-Brodgar landscape of international importance, and the juxtaposition of a henge-like structure and the chambered cairn of Unstan is of particular note.

As an Iron Age fortified site it would be unique on this scale in the Northern Isles, and would extend the repertoire of defensive type considerably. As a Viking ness-taking it would once again have an international significance, as such sites are extremely scarce throughout the Viking world.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HY 21 SE 22.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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