Ancient Monuments

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Munkerhoose, settlement and farm mound, Papa Westray

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.3579 / 59°21'28"N

Longitude: -2.9022 / 2°54'7"W

OS Eastings: 348806

OS Northings: 1052743

OS Grid: HY488527

Mapcode National: GBR M460.186

Mapcode Global: XH8K9.H1ZX

Entry Name: Munkerhoose, settlement and farm mound, Papa Westray

Scheduled Date: 29 March 1955

Last Amended: 24 June 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1466

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement; Secular: farm mound (Northern Isles)

Location: Papa Westray

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument is an extensive and complex multi-period settlement site comprising the remains of a broch tower, extra-mural broch settlement, middens, later Pictish settlement and a farm mound. The earliest recorded evidence at the site dates to the Bronze Age (between about 2000 and 800 BC). The majority of the site comprises the broch and extra-mural settlement dating to the Iron Age and Pictish period (between around 300 BC and AD 800), and the farm mound, which is thought to represent the latest phase of activity at the site and dates mainly to the 12th to 13th century AD. The remains are situated to the W and N of the church of St Boniface and its burial ground, which also dates originally to the 12th century.

The Iron Age and Pictish settlement remains are visible on the surface only as uneven stony turf-covered ground, but a wealth of archaeological structures and deposits are exposed in the cliff section to the W, stretching along the shoreline for approximately 150m. The section reveals heavy stonework interspersed with midden deposits forming a stratum around 3m deep. The farm mound is extensive and visible on the ground surface immediately N of the burial ground as a prominent feature in the local landscape standing up to 1m high. The farm mound is composed of dark loam and some midden where it is visible in the cliff section. The monument is situated in the northern half of Papa Westray, on the island's W coast, overlooking the narrow strait of Papa Sound. It was originally scheduled in 1955, but the documentation did not meet modern standards and did not adequately cover the archaeological remains: the present amendment rectifies this.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan. It includes 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. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all boundary fences and stone walls to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a highly complex and impressive multi-period settlement site, which has the potential to add significantly to our understanding of later prehistoric and Norse settlement patterns, landuse, society and economy, and how they changed over time. Munkerhoose is one of the largest and deepest archaeological sites in Orkney, noted for the extent, time-depth and variety of its archaeological remains, which can clearly be seen in the eroding section along the shoreline. The association between Munkerhoose and the adjacent ecclesiastical site of St Boniface make this an exceptionally important site. The Iron Age broch and associated settlement may have developed into a significant early ecclesiastical centre in Pictish Orkney. The site also has the potential to inform our understanding of the processes of cultural change that took place when the Scandinavians arrived and, subsequently, of the adoption of Christianity by the Norse. The late Norse farm mound is a prominent and distinctive feature within the local landscape and is important in its own right as a well-preserved and relatively undisturbed example of its class. Local tradition and place-name evidence further support the significance of the site overall and add to our understanding of its context in Papa Westray. The loss of this monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand Iron Age, Pictish and Norse settlement, landuse and economy in Orkney, and the development and adoption of Christianity in Pictish and Norse times.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as HY45SE 26.

The footprint of St Boniface and the adjacent hogback tombstone are scheduled separately as SM 1484.


Armit, I 2003, Towers in the North: the Brochs of Scotland, London.

Davidson, D A, Lamb R and Simpson I 1983, 'Farm Mounds in North Orkney: A preliminary report', Norwegian Archaeological Review 16:1, 39-44.

Lowe, C 1998, St Boniface Church, Orkney, Coastal Erosion and Archaeological Assessment (Alan Sutton).

Marwick, H 1925 'Antiquarian notes on Papa Westray', Proc Orkney Antiq Soc 3, 33-4, 40.

Ordnance Survey (Name Book) Object Name Books of the Ordnance Survey, Book No. 26, 11.

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, 184, no 526.

RCAHMS (1983c) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Papa Westray and Westray, Orkney Islands Area, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 19, Edinburgh, 18-19, no 29.

Ritchie, A 1996, Orkney, 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage' series, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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