- Quoyness - Chambered Tomb | 2024 Archive

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Quoyness - Sanday, Orkney
Chambered Tomb
National Grid Reference: HY 677 378

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How To Get There

From the ferry terminal at Loth follow the B9070 north. Stay on this road until you reach the T junction with the B9068, turn right. After about 1/2 a mile turn left on to the B9069. Turn right onto a track just after passing the ruined church. This track deteriorates into compressed sand. Follow it (carefully) until you reach a house. There is space to park here and a sign pointing to the tomb. Follow the coastal footpath for around 3/4 of a mile. Torch provided at site, but recommend you take one of your own, just in case.

The chambered tomb of Quoyness on the island of Sanday is a fine example of the Maes Howe type. The exterior would not have looked as it does in the photograph above, it has been left this way after renovation to more clearly show the construction. The entrance passage has been considerably shortened for the modern visitor, down to 3.5 meters from the original 9 meters. Traces of the original roofing slabs of the entrance passage can be clearly seen as you approach the modern entrance.

You emerge from your crawl into a stunningly high main chamber, the roof is all of 4 meters above the floor. The height is exaggerated by the walls tapering in slightly towards the roof. The main chamber is four meters long by 2 meters wide.

Before exploring the side chambers have a look at the floor. There are two quite curious features, a circular pit and a long curving trench leading from the entrance tunnel to the northeast side cell. The remains of ten adults and four children were found in the pit.

It is well worth crawling into the side cells as they have excellent examples of corbelled roofs. Four of the six side cells were found to contain burials when the tomb was excavated in the mid eighteenth century. It was noted during the excavation that the roof was missing and that the main chamber had been filled with stones, presumably via the now gaping roof. This process also seems to have occurred at other chambered tombs in Orkney when the tomb went out of use.

Nearby Sites

Related Sites

Maes Howe




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This prehistoric site has been rescued for historical reasons by History X's archive