Eday Church

Tombs of the Isles - Eday Church
Plan of Eday church chambered cairn.
Plan of the Eday church cairn. (After Davidson & Henshall. 1989. The Chambered Cairns of Orkney)
Round Cairn.
Stalled chamber.
Notes:A sub-oval cairn, c18m SSE to NNW by 15.5m NNE to SSW, in the centre of Eday, approximately 270m to the north-west of the site of the former parish church.

In 1963, Henshall classed it as a short-horned cairn due to three “horns” apparently projecting from the south-western, south-eastern and north-eastern “corners”. Revisiting the site in 1983, she felt this “interpretation seemed much less certain”. [1]

In 1989, a 30cm high bank ran southwards from the cairn for c6m.

Six orthostats can bee seen, five of which were clearly paired and divided the inner chamber into three compartments, with its axis ESE to WNW. The sixth probably faced the northern interior wall.

An interesting element is that the geology of the divisional orthostats was visibly different – with red sandstone, grey sandstone and flagstone used – but the same stones not in pairs:

“[T]he north stone of the first pair, the south stone of the third pair and the westernmost stone are blocks of red sandstone; the north stone of the third pair is grey sandstone; and the south stone of the first pair, and the north stone of the second pair are flagstone with shattered tops and flaking faces.” [1]

If this was not purely for cosmetic reasons, the different geologies brings to mind the utilisation of different quarries in the Ring of Brodgar and Stones of Stenness.
References:[1] Davidson, J. L. & Henshall, A. S. (1989). The Chambered Cairns of Orkney. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Eday church 2023 Picture
March 2023: The remains of the Eday church stalled cairn. (Dan Lee)