Ancient Monuments

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Billia Fiold, enclosures, platforms and banks

A Scheduled Monument in West Mainland, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.0137 / 59°0'49"N

Longitude: -3.3318 / 3°19'54"W

OS Eastings: 323618

OS Northings: 1014832

OS Grid: HY236148

Mapcode National: GBR L44X.8HK

Mapcode Global: WH69M.SPMW

Entry Name: Billia Fiold, enclosures, platforms and banks

Scheduled Date: 4 July 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13448

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Sandwick

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: West Mainland

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument comprises a complex of enclosures and banks on the summit of Billia Fiold, representing the remains of an upland settlement dating probably to the Bronze Age (between about 1800 and 800 BC). The well-preserved remains of numerous features are visible amidst heather and peat moorland over an area of approximately 0.5 hectares. A linear earth and stone bank running approximately NNE-SSW measures 3m wide and stands 0.2m high; it can be traced over a distance of at least 150m, fading out towards the lower slopes. This bank is situated immediately NW of several natural terraces which may have been used as platforms for buildings. Three groups of enclosures exploit the terraces. A sub-circular enclosure with an internal diameter of 26m, defined by a bank 3m wide and 0.2m high, adjoins and is roughly halfway along the linear bank. At its SW corner is a circular platform, 8m in diameter, which is defined by a low bank 0.6m wide and 0.1m high. To the NE, there is a cluster of two circular platforms, both 6m diameter and 0.6m deep, terraced into the slope, and a third, sub-rectangular platform, 13.3m NNW to SSE by 5.2m transversely. Of these, the second platform resembles a hut circle, its interior slightly hollowed, emphasising a low lip running around its circumference from NW to NE. Further scoops and terraces exist to the NNE and SW of the large enclosure, one of which may be evidence of a quarry. The monument lies at an altitude of around 55m above sea level, with the Burn of Cruland 200m to the E.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use 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 as a well-preserved group of features forming part of a relict prehistoric landscape with high potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past. In particular, the monument has the potential to add to our understanding of upland settlement, agriculture and economy in the Bronze Age. The features at Billia Fiold are unusually diverse, including platforms and enclosures of different types, as well as field boundaries. As demonstrated at other sites in northern Scotland (such as Lairg in Sutherland), there is high potential for the survival of important archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence within the soil and peat deposits at Billia Fiold. This can enhance our understanding of the dating and development sequence of the site, the functions of the different elements and the relationships between them, and of changes in the landscape and environment in Orkney during prehistory. Due to more recent changes in land-use, the survival of prehistoric upland rural settlements is very rare in Orkney, which adds to the importance of the site at Billia Fiold. The loss of the monument would affect our ability to understand the development of agricultural practices and rural settlement in prehistoric Orkney, and the significant changes that occurred as the climate changed in northern Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HY21NW 62


McCullagh and Tipping, R P J and R (eds) 1998, The Lairg Project 1988-1996: The Evolution of an Archaeological Landscape in Northern Scotland, Star Monogr, 3, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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