Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

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Queena Howe (6133)

Current Priority
2
East
342500
North
1049480
Site Type
Settlement And Mound
Period
3rd-1st millennium BC

A large mound and a coastal exposure containing structural remains are located in close proximity but may not necessarily be associated. It has been suggested previously that these remains represent a broch and adjacent settlement. The structure(s) revealed in the section is associated with anthropogenic soils and midden deposits and would appear to represent a settlement; if not a broch, then a substantial house. The mound, which has been identified as a broch, however, has a well-defined form which appears more designed than the result of post-abandonment build-up. The broch mound interpretation cannot be entirely ruled out at this stage, but the possibility that it may be a burial monument should be borne in mind. The area in which the site is situated appears to be a sand-trap and there may be a considerable depth of sand covering any further archaeological deposits in the wider locality. Clearly, this is a complex site with two or more large structures represented. The substantial depth of deposits would suggest that activity in the area continued over a long period of time. The depth of sand covering this site suggests that the remains may have survived well up to now, but it is currently being destroyed by coastal erosion and attention is very urgently required. (i) A pudding-shaped mound with steep sides lies approximately 5m from the coast edge. It measures some 22m in diameter and stands up to 2.2m high. The summit is disturbed and the tops of some large stones are visible within the hollow. The surface of the mound is lumpy and uneven. There are further, more amorphous mounds to the north and east sides of the main mound. Over 90% of the overall site area is grass-covered. The large mound is separated from the coast edge by a track which appears to run over buried archaeological deposits. (ii) There are extensive archaeological deposits visible nearby in the eroding coastal section. Here, the remains of several curvilinear walls and wall ends protrude from the section face. Towards the northern end of this exposure are the remains of a corbelled cell. These walls are all substantial drystone constructions formed from regularly coursed slabs. Interspersed between the walls are anthropogenic deposits containing inclusions of shell and bone. The exposure extends for some 90m, with up to 3m of archaeological deposits being visible above the level of the storm beach. These deposits extend below the level of the beach and the base of the section was not exposed.

05/07/2014 ShoreUPDATE More or less as described. This north facing section contains remains of at least 2 substantial (wheelhouse?) structures and associated cultural deposits containing shell, peat ash, bone and pottery. Remains are constructed upon till, and are overlain by approx. 1m of blown sand. See photos taken from West to East for more detailed description of exposed remains.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Fair
Action
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 WT30 on map Westray: Map 2 in Orkney Coastal Zone Assessment Survey 1998: Westray, Papa Westray, Holm of Papa Westray, West Mainland, 1998

Other records:

NMRS
2766
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

5th July, 2014 by training1
Survey Information
User:
training1
Date:
July 5, 2014
Tidal state:
low
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Description:

A large mound and a coastal exposure containing structural remains are located in close proximity but may not necessarily be associated. It has been suggested previously that these remains represent a broch and adjacent settlement. The structure(s) revealed in the section is associated with anthropogenic soils and midden deposits and would appear to represent a settlement; if not a broch, then a substantial house. The mound, which has been identified as a broch, however, has a well-defined form which appears more designed than the result of post-abandonment build-up. The broch mound interpretation cannot be entirely ruled out at this stage, but the possibility that it may be a burial monument should be borne in mind. The area in which the site is situated appears to be a sand-trap and there may be a considerable depth of sand covering any further archaeological deposits in the wider locality. Clearly, this is a complex site with two or more large structures represented. The substantial depth of deposits would suggest that activity in the area continued over a long period of time. The depth of sand covering this site suggests that the remains may have survived well up to now, but it is currently being destroyed by coastal erosion and attention is very urgently required. (i) A pudding-shaped mound with steep sides lies approximately 5m from the coast edge. It measures some 22m in diameter and stands up to 2.2m high. The summit is disturbed and the tops of some large stones are visible within the hollow. The surface of the mound is lumpy and uneven. There are further, more amorphous mounds to the north and east sides of the main mound. Over 90% of the overall site area is grass-covered. The large mound is separated from the coast edge by a track which appears to run over buried archaeological deposits. (ii) There are extensive archaeological deposits visible nearby in the eroding coastal section. Here, the remains of several curvilinear walls and wall ends protrude from the section face. Towards the northern end of this exposure are the remains of a corbelled cell. These walls are all substantial drystone constructions formed from regularly coursed slabs. Interspersed between the walls are anthropogenic deposits containing inclusions of shell and bone. The exposure extends for some 90m, with up to 3m of archaeological deposits being visible above the level of the storm beach. These deposits extend below the level of the beach and the base of the section was not exposed.

05/07/2014 ShoreUPDATE More or less as described. This north facing section contains remains of at least 2 substantial (wheelhouse?) structures and associated cultural deposits containing shell, peat ash, bone and pottery. Remains are constructed upon till, and are overlain by approx. 1m of blown sand. See photos taken from West to East for more detailed description of exposed remains.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
limited visibility (partial remains)
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (no footpath)
The site is:
is well known
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

The remains exposed in the coastal section are included in the Scheduled area of the broch (1457). HS to be forwarded this update for their records. Retain Priority 2 status.