Neolithic ORCA Outreach Research Tombs of the Isles

Tombs of the Isles – February launch dates set for Sanday and Westray

The next two launch events for the Tombs of the Isles project take place in Sanday and Westray in February 2022.

The next two launch events for the Tombs of the Isles project take place in Sanday and Westray next month.

Tombs of the Isles Logo

Led by the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), part of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Tombs of the Isles was commissioned by the North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme (NILPS).

The project will see a programme of research, walks, workshops and archaeological fieldwork (survey, geophysics, excavation) investigate some of the most iconic tombs in the North Isles of Orkney and bring the lesser-known sites into the spotlight.

Joining ORCA’s Dan Lee at both events will be Professor Jane Downes, director of the UHI Archaeology Institute.

Quoyness, Sanday. (Sigurd Towrie)

Sanday’s best-known chambered tomb is undoubtedly Quoyness – a Maeshowe-type structure with architectural parallels to Quanterness, just outside Kirkwall and in the shadow of Wideford Hill.

Along with confirmed examples such as Tresness, where excavation continued in 2021, Sanday also also has a number of suspected sites such as Mount Maesry and Toftsness.

The Sanday launch begins with a talk in the school’s community room from 7.30pm-9pm on Wednesday, February 2, followed by a drop-in event at Heilsa Fjold on Thursday, February 3, from 10am until 4pm.

The interior of the Quoyness chambered cairn, Sanday. (Antonia Thomas)
Suggested reconstruction of the Point of Cott long cairn, Westray, Orkney. [Barber, J. (1997) The excavation of a stalled cairn at the Point of Cott, Westray, Orkney]
The Pierowall decorated stone. (Sigurd Towrie)
The Pierowall decorated stone. (Sigurd Towrie)

Perhaps the most spectacular evidence of Westray’ Neolithic heritage is the beautifully carved stone slab from the remains of the Pierowall chambered cairn. Other sites in the island include Curquoy, the Point of Cott, Vere Point and Knucker Hill.

Westray’s launch talk was due to take place in February but due to unforseen circumstances had to be postponed. We are hoping to reschedule for March/April.

Dates for the project launch events in Stronsay, Eday, Shapinsay and Papay will follow shortly. Watch this space for details.