Excavations at an early medieval cemetery at Stromness, Orkney

Tim Stevens (Author)

Melissa Melikian (Author)

Sarah Jane Grieve (Author)

Graves, Parish Church, Gully, Burials, Church Includes, Cemetery, Wooden Coffins, Postholes, Grave
Neolithic, Medieval, 2002


Report on the excavation in 2002, in advance of construction work, of a cemetery at the Bu of Cairston. The site was situated on a headland known as Bu Point, 2km east of Stromness on the Orkney Mainland. A number of pre-cemetery features were identified at the site; these included a Neolithic gully with associated post-holes, a palaeochannel, a buried soil horizon and several rubble spreads. Excavations revealed a cemetery of thirteenth- to fourteenth-century date. A total of 109 inhumations, and a further fifteen probable graves, were recorded on the site. The dating and archaeological evidence for the cemetery suggests a Christian context. The burials were supine on an east-west alignment with no associated grave goods or markers. Six individuals were buried in cist-like structures and five were buried in wooden coffins. It is though that the original parish church of Stromness was located at the Bu of Cairston, before the parish church was moved to St Peter's in Outertown in the seventeenth century. It is probable that the cemetery excavated at Cairston was that associated with the parish church. Includes


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How to Cite
Stevens, T., Melikian, M., & Grieve, S. J. (2006). Excavations at an early medieval cemetery at Stromness, Orkney. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 135, 371–393. https://doi.org/10.9750/PSAS.135.371.393