Sanday, as the name implies, has some of the finest beaches to be found
on Orkney. The island is low lying, so much so, that it can be difficult
to spot in high seas - before the distinctive Start Point lighthouse was
built in the early 19th century there were a great many shipwrecks off the
island's east coast.
Start Point lighthouse
(C) Richard Welsby
The Quoyness chambered cairn is an excellent example of the Maeshowe type.
The mound measures roughly 20 metres by 17 metres, and stands about 4.5
metres high. The entrance passage is on the south east side of the cairn
and leads to the inner chamber which stands roughly 4 metres high. When
the tomb was opened, a circular cist containing the skeletons of ten adults
and four children was discovered in the south corner of the main chamber.
Four of the six side chambers also contained skeletal remains along with
a bone pin and polished slate tools.
The old farm steading at Tressness has an octagonal roofed horse engine
house. The horse powered device was used to turn a threshing machine in
the barn next door.
Tofts Ness on the north east point of the island contains hundreds of burial
mounds including a long mound possibly housing a chambered cairn. The site
was in use as a burial ground for several thousand years.
The abandoned 19th century crofting village at Ortie is arranged in a remarkably
long and straight 'Kloss' running down to the sea. The village once housed
a population of more than 60.
The Viking boat burial site at Scar was a significant find for Orkney
archeologists. Uncovered by a storm, the site yielded several fascinating
artefacts including a sword, a brooch, a whalebone plaque, and a comb.
There is a badly eroded settlement site at Pool. Excavations have shown
the lower layers to be Pictish, and the upper layers to be of Norse origin.
Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby
Copyright Orknet 1996