Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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Northskaill (6817)

Current Priority
Site Type
Mound & Coastal Exposure
?3rd-1st mill BC

A substantial mound lies adjacent to the coast and has already been truncated by sea erosion. The current erosion face is cut through the highest point of the mound, exposing up to 5m of archaeological deposits in a 150m long section. The surviving portion of the mound slopes inland from the section face and is visible for some 60m. The exposed deposits are a well-stratified mix of organic soils with frequent inclusions of shell (limpet, cockle, winkle), bone, peatash and charcoal. In the section, a fragment of masonry, 1.2m long by 0.3m high, has the appearance of an outer wall face belonging to a structure only now beginning to erode. Of note, is the survival of fibrous organic material, which occurs in discrete lenses, and which appears to be a mixture of straw and dung; probably byre waste. In the scale and appearance of the mound and in the nature of the exposed deposits, this mound appears to be fairly typical of the Sanday farm mounds, but there are some indications that it may have early origins. Fragments of straight sided pottery, possibly of Bronze Age date, were recovered from deposits towards the base of the section. The remains are known to have been eroding since at least 1928; they are very vulnerable to further coastal erosion and the section is inherently unstable, being based on soft sand deposits. Ref.: RCAHMS (1946), #174; RCAHMS (1980), #81.

Condition and current recommendations:

Visit - check condition; characterise site and obtain dating evidence ;
Survey site - using several techniques to characterise site ;
Excavate site - open area

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Record SY170 on map Sanday: Map 12 in Orkney Coastal Survey: Sanday & North Ronaldsay, 1999

Other records:



1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

10th December, 2014 by training1
Survey Information
Dec. 10, 2014
Tidal state:
Site located?:
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; active wind erosion (in dunes only); has eroded in the past

ShoreUPDATE 24/04/2013 and 20/04/2014

As described. In 2013, loose stone that appeared to be collapsed walling was noted towards the top of the section. In 2014, a collapsed drystone structure was visible towards the base of the section. A cu alloy fragment was recovered from the section in 2013. Pottery and bone were noted in layers towards the base of the section.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
not visible
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (no footpath)
The site is:
don't know
Comments and recommendations

This site is actively eroding and extremely vulnerable. Assign to the highest priority 1* status. Nothing is known about this site and urgent evaluation to establish an age model and potential of the deposits is required.