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Birsay Historic Sites

FIELD SITES of Archaeological Interest (a few of many)
(References are Ordinance Survey Map references)


Broch Remains:

Oxtro, (Hedges #3, HY254268) between the main road A986 and the Loch of Boardhouse.

Skogar, (Hedges #1, HY264234), on land of the WWII Twatt Aerodrome, about 400m east of the Loch of Isbister. Completely ruined.

Knowe of Taft (Hedges #2, HY284223) near the Loch of Sabiston. Ruined.

Other possible brochs are questionable: Savar Howe, sites on Loch of Hundland & of Isbister. The so-called Picki-house, the Knowe of Nesthouse is another possibility. (map references)


The Birsay Bay Project sites:

During 1976-1982 major archaeological work was done around Birsay Bay, including Links, Saevar Howe, Point of Buckquoy and the Brough. Except for the scheduled monuments, the sites have covered, but it well worth a visit to gain a feel for the landscape and environment and to see the relation to the present village. St. Magnus Church and the Earl's Palace are in the village. The archaeological findings are reported in The Birsay Bay Project by C.D. Morris, et.al., in two volumes published by the University of Durham, 1989.


Chambered Cairns:

Newan (Davidson & Henshall #39, HY271277),

Holy Kirk (Davidson & Henshall #65, HY249216) and Vestra Fiold(#79, HY240218) are now in Sandwick, but they are on the Birsay road.


Chapel sites:

Marwick Bay (HY230241) remains of a Norse Chapel

Spurdigrove (HY255244) Standing Stone and probable chapel/burial ground

Manse Well is not a chapel, but waters from this well were formerly said to have healing waters attributed to St. Magnus


Kirbuster Hill Barrows (Ritchie #68, HY284263), Queenafiold


Standing Stones:

Quoybune (Ritchie #66, HY252262) prominent Standing Stone, said to drink from the nearby loch on New Year's Eve

Stanerandy, (HY267276), a mound and two Standing Stones



Sabiston Mill, not open to the public but right on main road A986 to the Palace.

Sand Geo (Marwick) and Northside Fishermen's Huts & nousts

Peat Workings (Dounby - Evie Road)

Kelp burning



Twatt & Skeabrae Aerodromes (see Gregor Lamb "Sky over Scapa 1939- 1945" publisher: Byrgisey, 1991)

Kitchener's Memorial Tower, Marwick Head.

HMS Tern, the Royal Naval Air Station at Twatt  

SCENIC WALKS along North Side, Marwick Head, the Loons and the Moorlands


Orkney, Anna Ritchie, 1996. Edinburgh: HM Stationery Office

Bu, Gurness and the Brochs of Orkney, Vol III. John W. Hedges, 1987. Oxford: B.A.R. British Series 165.

The Chambered Cairns of Orkney, Davidson and Henshall, 1989. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

List of scheduled Ancient Monuments

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