Eday Manse

Tombs of the Isles - Eday Manse
Type:Probable Maeshowe-type.
Rectangular cairn.
Notes:Little, if anything, remains of this cairn, which was destroyed in 1821 to allow the construction of a church – the ruins of which now stand beside it.

There were no details of the Neolithic structure at the time but around 1861, the landowner Robert Hebden pieced together a brief account:

“…from the description of old people, there was a long passage, or room, flagged over, and numerous passages branching out and leading to quasi-circular cells, some few of which that remained undisturbed I have since opened . . . “

According to Hebden, the exterior of the structure was around 18m long and 9m wide.

Although his exploration of the chambers revealed “nothing but a rude clay urn, which was unfortunately broken on removal” and “a few flint flakes“, Hebden he did find one of Orkney’s finest examples of Neolithic art – one of the few examples featuring spiral and circular motifs.

The decorated stone was “lying on its face just at the entrance of one of the passages where the former quarrying had stopped. It appears to me to have been split for a lintel, and probably the other half answers that purpose in the UP Church“.

Hebden donated the artefact to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) in 1861.

Visiting the site in 1983, Henshall suggested the rectangular cairn measured 37m north-south and 16-17m across – much larger than in Hebden’s account.

All that remains today are a few lumps, bumps and holes across the area.
References:Davidson, J. L. & Henshall, A. S. (1989). The Chambered Cairns of Orkney. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Eday Manse chambered cairn site. (Antonia Thomas)
Eday Manse chambered cairn site. (Antonia Thomas)
Eday Manse chambered cairn - 1881 map extract. Courtesy of National Library of Scotland.
1881 Ordnance Survey map extract of the site, showing the rough alignment and scale of the chambered cairn.
(National Library of Scotland)
Eday Manse decorated Neolithic stone.
The decorated lintel from the Eday Manse chambered cairn.