Scheduled Monument

St Boniface's Church, church and hog-backed stone, Papa WestraySM1484

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Crosses and carved stones: tombstone, Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; church
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Papa Westray
HY 48817 52705
348817, 1052705


The monument comprises the below-ground remains of St Boniface's Church, part of the surrounding burial ground, and a hog-backed tombstone. The upstanding church originally dates from the 12th century, but was remodelled in the 17th century and restored in 1993; it remains in occasional use and is a listed building. The area beneath and around the upstanding church is likely to contain buried archaeological remains relating to the various building phases and there is high potential for the presence of structures and other evidence relating to an earlier chapel or ecclesiastical site. There are also likely to be burials and gravemarkers spanning a considerable time-depth in the area around the church. The hog-backed stone is situated immediately to the E of the church. It is carved from red sandstone and measures approximately 1.5m long by 0.4m wide and is aligned E-W. Three rows of characteristic 'shingle' pattern are carved into the sloping sides of the stone. The monument is situated on the W coast of Papa Westray, overlooking Papa Sound, at around 5m above sea level. The monument was originally scheduled in 1959, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

The scheduled area is rectangular on plan, extending to 5m beyond the exterior walls of the church, except on the E side where it extends to approximately 10m beyond the church, to include the hog-backed stone. The scheduling includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes all parts of the present church building, extending down to the base of the floor slabs, and all fittings and fixtures within the church. The scheduling also excludes all burial lairs where rights of burial still exist and the above-ground elements of all burial monuments of 19th-century or later date.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the development of Christianity, and the establishment and evolution of parishes in Orkney. There is very high potential for the survival of important archaeological deposits and structural foundations beneath and around the existing church, relating to the late Norse church and probably an earlier ecclesiastical site or chapel. There is also potential for the survival of burials and gravemarkers or carved stones spanning a considerable period of time. Overall the site has the potential to add to our understanding of the development of places of worship, church architecture and burial practice, as well as Norse influence in Orkney. The significance of the site is enhanced by its close proximity and strong associations with Munkerhoose, the impressive prehistoric and later settlement remains surrounding the burial ground to the N and W. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand the origins and development of Christianity and places of worship during the Pictish and Norse periods in Orkney.



RCAHMS records the site as HY45SE 17 and HY45SE 17.1.

The adjacent and related settlement of Munkerhoose is scheduled separately as SM 1466.


Fisher, I 2002, 'Crosses in the ocean: some papar sites and their sculpture', in Crawford, B E The Papar in the North Atlantic: environment and history, St Andrews, 49.

Gibson, J 2008, Rising tides: the loss of coastal heritage in Orkney, Orkney College, 70-2.

Kirkness, W 1921, 'Notes on the discovery of a coped monument and incised cross-slab at the graveyard, St Boniface Church, Papa Westray, Orkney', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 55, 131-4.

Lang, J T 1974, 'Hogback monuments in Scotland', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 105, 230.

Lowe, C 1998, St Boniface Church, Orkney, Coastal Erosion and Archaeological Assessment.

Moore, H and Wilson, G 1998, 'Orkney Coastal Survey 1998, Westray, Papa Westray, Mainland', Discovery Excav Scot, 69.

RCAHMS 1946, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v Edinburgh, 179-80, no 518-20.

RCAHMS 1984, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Papa Westray and Westray, Orkney Islands Area, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 19 Edinburgh, 18-19, no 29.

Radford, C A R 1962, 'Art and architecture; Celtic and Norse' in Wainwright, F T 1962, The Northern Isles, Edinburgh and London, 169.

Rendall, J 2002, 'St Boniface and the mission to the Northern Isles: a view from Papa Westray' in Crawford, B E 2002, The Papar in the North Atlantic: environment and history, St Andrews, 31-37.

Ritchie, A 1996, Orkney, 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage' series, Edinburgh, 38, 98, 107-8.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 27/05/2019 10:14