Castle Bloody, Shapinsay

Tombs of the Isles - Castle Bloody, Shapinsay
Notes:A prominent mound but questions remain as to whether it is a Neolithic chambered cairn or a later structure, perhaps a Bronze/Iron Age souterrain.

Early accounts describe a small chamber with a roof of large flat slabs. Orientated north-south this chamber had a lintelled passage to the south-east and a second, much lower passage, leading from the north end.

In 1984, county archaeology Raymond Lamb described it as “a puzzling site”.

“The main chamber has no stall-slabs and might almost be an earth-house; but the prominent siting and clear-cut mound are more suggestive of a chambered tomb than of a settlement. It may perhaps be a Maeshowe-type tomb with the second passage serving a side chamber.”

In The Chambered Cairns of Orkney (1989) Davidson and Henshall were not convinced, suggesting instead it belonged to “little-known category of monument” – a mound “in which there may be one or more passages, sometimes angled, leading to one or several small chambers built on ground level”.