Ancient Monuments

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St Tredwell's Chapel, chapel and settlement mound, Papa Westray

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.3414 / 59°20'29"N

Longitude: -2.8869 / 2°53'12"W

OS Eastings: 349648

OS Northings: 1050900

OS Grid: HY496509

Mapcode National: GBR M471.G6V

Mapcode Global: XH8K9.QG4K

Entry Name: St Tredwell's Chapel, chapel and settlement mound, Papa Westray

Scheduled Date: 28 December 1961

Last Amended: 29 September 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2124

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel; Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Papa Westray

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument is a multi-period site comprising the remains of St Tredwell's Chapel atop a settlement mound containing a possible broch. The settlement is likely to date to the early 1st millennium AD, and the visible chapel is probably 12th century (Norse period) in date.

The monument survives as a large stony mound with steep sides, measuring approximately 50m NW-SE by 40m transversely and standing up to 4.5m high. On top of the mound on the SE side are the foundations of a Norse chapel. The chapel is of drystone rubble construction, with occasional dressed stones. The N and W walls survive up to 1.3m high and are 0.5m thick. To the N of the chapel are the low foundations of a smaller rectangular structure, which may be the remains of an earlier chapel, possibly of early Christian date. Elsewhere, both on the summit of the mound and around the lower slopes, are traces of earlier walling indicative of a broch and associated settlement remains. Immediately outside the W wall of the chapel, part of a passageway and corbelled chamber can be seen, which was exposed and recorded by Traill in 1879 when he was clearing out the chapel. Around the SW edge of the mound several courses of curving drystone wall are also visible. The monument fully occupies a peninsula (formerly an island) on the E shore of the Loch of St Tredwell in Papa Westray and is around 5m above sea level. It has extensive views in all directions and is highly visible within the landscape. The monument was first scheduled in 1961, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

The scheduled area is oval on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's use and re-use is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence and modern dry stone walls.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an impressive and well-preserved example of a multi-period site with high potential to add significantly to our understanding of the establishment, development and changing character of settlement and places of worship in the 1st millennium AD. It can enhance our understanding of the establishment of early ecclesiastical centres and places of worship, their relationship with earlier secular sites, and the character, development and abandonment of Iron Age settlements. Study of this site in comparison with similar examples (notably St Boniface 2km to the NNW) can add to our understanding of changes in politics, society and religion through the 1st millennium AD and later. The significance of the monument is enhanced by its Norse associations (it is mentioned in Orkneyinga Saga) and by historical references to the site continuing to be a place of pilgrimage into the 17th and 18th centuries. The loss of the monument would impede our ability to understand the nature of Iron Age society, economy and social hierarchy, and the establishment and development of Christian sites in Orkney and further afield.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as HY45SE 4.


Armit, I 2003, Towers of the North: The Brochs of Scotland, Stroud.

Barry, G 1805, History of the Orkney Islands, Edinburgh, 437.

Bowman, A 1992, 'St Tredwell's Brough (Papa Westray parish): brough with multi-period occupation', Discovery Excav Scot, 82.

Brand, J 1701, A Brief Description of Orkney, Edinburgh, 58-9.

Crawford, B 2002, The Papar Project, University of St Andrews, [last viewed 26 August 2013].

Downes, J and Ritchie, A (eds) 2003, Sea Change: Orkney and Northern Europe in the later Iron Age AD 300-800, Balgavies, Angus.

Lowe, C 1994, 'George Petrie and the 'brochs' of Papa Westray', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 124, 173-87.

Mackie, E W 2002, The roundhouses, brochs and wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c. 700 BC - AD 500: architecture and material culture, Part 1: The Orkney and Shetland Isles. BAR British Series 342: Oxford.

Proceedings of the Society for the Antiquities for Scotland 1883 'Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library, with exhibits', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 17, 136-8.

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, 180, 181-2.

RCAHMS, 1983, 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, 19, no 30.

Ritchie, J. N. G. 1988, The Brochs of Scotland, Aylesbury.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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