The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Liddle Burnt Mound

Ronnie Simison, the farmer who discovered the Tomb of the Eagles, also discovered this impressive burnt mound. He had been using the mound as a quarry for road metalling, when in 1972 while he came across a stone structure. He contacted Dr Colin Renfrew who was excavating at Quanterness, who got John Hedges, a member of his team to investigate the site.

Liddle Burnt Mound. (c) SFLPS

The mound was oval in shape with an entrance which opened towards the edge. Inside was a roughly-paved working area with a hearth which was recessed into the wall. A large central tank was sunk into the floor and was made of flat slabs of stone which would have been made watertight using clay. The tank was found to be half full of stones which were shattered and “fired” by intense heat.

John Hedges originally thought that the building was a house, but the lack of domestic structures puzzled him. There were no beds or a hearth and the artifacts included pottery, pot lids and hammerstones. This coupled with the large quantity of shattered stone, charcoal, and ash that was found, suggested that the site had been used primarily for cooking. It is thought that large joints of meat were probably boiled in the trough. Hot stones would have been heated up in a fire and then dropped into the tank to heat up the water.

Dating of materials excavated from the mound indicates that the site was in use between 1200 and 500 BC.