Curquoy, Westray

Curquoy, Westray.
Long cairn.
Stalled chamber.
Location:Not known, but see map for approximate area.
Notes:A stalled chambered cairn destroyed in 1860. Although we know it was at the bottom of Knucker Hill, the exact location has been lost.

The presence of two fields with the names Upper and Lower Curquoy suggests a location to the north-east of the hill. Neither field, however, shows any traces of a Neolithic cairn.

The only account of the structure came from the Orkney antiquary George Petrie, who was recording information received from Westray man John Hewison:

“A mound extended from S to N about 100′ long and 50′ broad. The graves or tombs were nearest to the N end of the mound. There were two of them lying parallel to each other and about 3′ apart. Each grave was about 10′ long and 8′ wide. They were formed with broad flagstones set on edge – the larger stones were on the W side. On the W side of the W grave there was a large stone 8′ long, 1′ thick, 3′ (or 5′) below the surface.

“The skeletons in each grave lay N and S in several tiers one above the other, the heads of the skeletons of one tier lying N and the other S and so on alternately.

“Five or six tiers were counted in one grave and six skulls in each tier, and the other grave was believed to contain about the same number which would give about 60 or 70 skeletons altogether. In the E graves, some of the skeletons were observed to lie in a doubled or contracted posture, but in the W they lay on their sides with their faces to the E.

“Both graves were filled up with stones seemingly thrown down in a careless manner. It was evident that they had never been disturbed since the bodies had been placed in the grave and that they had all been interred at the same time.

The only relic found with them was a ball of quartz apparently mixed with greenstone.”
References:Davidson, J. L. & Henshall, A. S. (1989). The Chambered Cairns of Orkney. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Petrie, G. Antiquaries Ms 545.