Ancient Monuments

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Vinquoy Hill, chambered cairn, Eday

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.2274 / 59°13'38"N

Longitude: -2.7725 / 2°46'21"W

OS Eastings: 356009

OS Northings: 1038116

OS Grid: HY560381

Mapcode National: GBR M4JB.LMN

Mapcode Global: XH8KY.6BMH

Entry Name: Vinquoy Hill, chambered cairn, Eday

Scheduled Date: 10 October 1936

Last Amended: 20 October 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1410

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 Maeshowe type chambered cairn, dating to the Neolithic period (probably early third millennium BC). It survives as a circular heather-covered mound, measuring approximately 18m in diameter and standing up to 3m high. The cairn was excavated in 1857 by Farrer and Hebden, who broke into the chamber through the top and cleared the entrance passage. The tomb contains an irregular-shaped central chamber, which originally had a corbelled roof, and four side compartments entered from the NW, SW, SE and NE sides of the chamber. The entrance is on the S (lower) side and the 5m-long passage and chamber are partly subterranean, cut back into the hill. Unlike most Orcadian chambered cairns, the tomb is built of sandstone. The monument has been restored to enable public access and is now part of the Eday Heritage Trail. The monument occupies a conspicuous position, almost at the highest point in the island, atop Vinquoy Hill on the N side of Eday, at 74m above sea level, overlooking Calf 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 circular on plan, measuring 30m in diameter, to include 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, particularly the dating, design and construction of burial monuments, and the nature of belief systems and burial practices during the Neolithic period. In Orkney, and Eday in particular, chambered cairns are an important component of the wider prehistoric landscape. They are often focal points and can inform our understanding of prehistoric land-use and social organisation. Across Scotland, such funerary monuments are often our main or only source of evidence for human activity during the Neolithic period. 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 HY53NE 9


Davidson, J L and Henshall, A S 1989, The chambered cairns of Orkney: an inventory of the structures and their contents, Edinburgh, 168-169, no 53.

Hedges, J W 1983, Isbister: a chambered tomb in Orkney, BAR British Series 115.

Henshall, A S 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol 1, Edinburgh, 244-245, no 53.

Petrie, G 1863, 'The Pict's-houses in the Orkneys', Archaeol J 20, 33-4.

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, 54, no 216.

Ritchie, A 1996, Orkney and Shetland, 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage' series, Edinburgh, 165, no 99.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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