Ancient Monuments

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Sandhill, chambered cairn 300m west of, Eday

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.1813 / 59°10'52"N

Longitude: -2.7695 / 2°46'10"W

OS Eastings: 356124

OS Northings: 1032990

OS Grid: HY561329

Mapcode National: GBR M4JG.G0S

Mapcode Global: WH7B8.FHFC

Entry Name: Sandhill, chambered cairn 300m W of, Eday

Scheduled Date: 10 October 1936

Last Amended: 28 August 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3535

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Eday

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument is a chambered cairn of Orkney-Cromarty type dating from the Neolithic period (probably between 3500 and 2500 BC). It survives as a circular, grass-covered stony mound, measuring approximately 9m in diameter. The cairn was partly excavated in 1937 and now stands approximately 0.8m high. The entrance passage opens from the ESE. The burial chamber is 3.4m long and divided into three compartments by upright slabs, several of which are still visible, together with much of the overlying cairn material. The excavated finds included flints, stone tools and an unusual type of pottery bowl, likely to be early in the Orcadian pottery sequence. The monument is situated on a gentle E-facing slope at approximately 30m 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 a circle on plan, 25m in diameter, centred on the centre of the monument. The scheduling 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.

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. Although partly excavated, Sandhill retains its field characteristics to a marked degree. It is particularly valuable because, on the basis of the unusual pottery it has produced as well as its small size, it appears to be early in the sequence of Orcadian tombs. Chambered cairns are an important component of the wider prehistoric landscape in Orkney and the importance of the Sandhill example is enhanced by its proximity to two other chambered cairns, both of which lie within 600m. Chambered cairns are often focal points in the landscape and can inform our understanding of prehistoric land-use and social organisation. They also have the potential to enhance our understanding of Neolithic society in general, its organisation, economy, religion and demography. 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 such monuments within the landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as HY53SE6.


Calder, C S T, 1938, 'Excavations of three Neolithic chambered cairns ' one with an upper and a lower chamber ' in the islands of Eday and the Calf of Eday in Orkney', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 72, 193-216.

Davidson, J L and Henshall, A S 1989, The chambered cairns of Orkney: an inventory of the structures and their contents, Edinburgh, 158-9.

Fraser, D 1983, Land and society in Neolithic Orkney, British Archaeological Reports British series 117, Oxford.

Henshall, A S 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 1, Edinburgh, 232-3, ORK. 47.

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, 61-2, no 224.

RCAHMS 1984, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Eday and Stronsay, Orkney Islands Area, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series, 23, Edinburgh, 9, no 4.

Renfrew, C 1979, Investigations in Orkney. Society of Antiquaries of London, Research Report 38, London, 201, 204, 210.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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