Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Auskerry, long cist 95m west of Whale Geo

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.0317 / 59°1'54"N

Longitude: -2.5612 / 2°33'40"W

OS Eastings: 367885

OS Northings: 1016211

OS Grid: HY678162

Mapcode National: GBR N41V.MF2

Mapcode Global: WH8D8.M8L1

Entry Name: Auskerry, long cist 95m W of Whale Geo

Scheduled Date: 11 December 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13384

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cist

Location: Stronsay

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument is a long cist burial dating probably to the 1st millennium AD. The long cist is visible as an exposed portion of capstone measuring 1.95m long by 0.9m wide and approximately 0.12m thick. Other stone slabs can be traced beneath the turf and soil, including the rest of the capstone and the sides of the cist. The grave is aligned approximately NW-SE and is in excellent condition: it appears to be completely undisturbed. There is very high potential for the cist to contain an intact inhumation and associated archaeological evidence. The monument is situated on low-lying ground, less than 10m above sea level, close to the E coast of Auskerry, with views out to the E over the North Sea.

The scheduled area is rectangular in plan, measuring 6.5m ENE-WSW by 7m transversely, 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 as a well-preserved example of a single, long cist burial. Such burials are relatively rare in Orkney and not common across Scotland in general. This long cist has an inherent potential to add to our understanding of the past, in particular the design and construction of burial monuments, and the changing nature of burial practice and belief. This monument is of particular interest as it offers the potential to investigate an intact and well-preserved burial: very unusually, it does not appear to have been disturbed previously. It is also important as one of a varied group of monuments in this island setting, which together can illuminate our understanding of changes in a society in microcosm over several millennia. The loss of this monument would impede our understanding of ritual and funerary practice in the 1st millennium AD, both in Orkney and further afield in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as HY61NE 24.


Hedges, J 1977, 'A long cist at Sandside, Graemsay, Orkney', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 109, 374-8.

Ritchie, A 1977, 'Excavation of Pictish and Viking-age farmsteads at Buckquoy, Orkney', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 108, 174-227.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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