Scheduled Monument

Watch Stone, stone settings, Barnhouse settlement, and related remainsSM90352

Status: Designated


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


Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement (if not assigned to any more specific type), Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
HY 30711 12660
330711, 1012660


The monument is an area including the Watch Stone and the site of a standing stone near to it, the site of the Odin stone and the sites of a nearby enclosure ditch, pit and stone-hole, structures including a fire place south-south-east of Odin cottage, and the late neolithic settlement at Barnhouse, and all between and around them.

The Watch Stone is a sandstone monolith 5.5m tall. The stump of a second monolith was found in a stone pit near the road. Its site is shown by the Ordnance Survey as about 7.5m SW of the Watch Stone on the modern edge of the Loch of Stenness. Excavation in 1991 revealed two stone holes and a pit near the traditional site of the Odin Stone, between HY30651260 and HY30651262. North of the Odin Stone an area containing part of a flint scatter and calcined material was studied. Surface collection of artefacts, phosphate analysis, geophysical prospection and trial excavation suggested that the remains include at least a rectangular part-enclosure roughly 9m across and a long cist burial, a hearth and associated activity areas. In the north-easternmost part of the area is the late Neolithic settlement of Barnhouse, partly excavated in the early 1980s. It includes remains of at least 8 house sites and a large late neolithic hall. Evidence from a scatter of artefacts shows that unexcavated evidence for the settlement extends well beyond the excavated area.

The area to be scheduled is bounded on the west, north and east by the shores of the Loch of Stenness and the Loch of Harray. It excludes the house, garden and outhouses of Odin cottage and a 0.5m-wide strip outside all the outer wall faces of the outhouses. To the SE it is bounded in the southern part of the area by the fence of the field in which stand the Stones of Stenness, and it thus includes the Orkney Islands Council footpath from the public road to the settlement at Barnhouse; 236m from the public road the edge of the scheduled area turns to run parallel to national grid east-west, continuing eastward to the shore of the Loch of Harray. The scheduling excludes the top 0.3m depth of the public road in an area bounded by the outer edges of the existing road drains and also the top 0.3m of the driveway to Odin cottage. It also excludes all above ground parts of fences and walls. The area is shown outlined in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance for the evidence it contains about the prehistoric to early Christian use of the area, and because the structures and standing stone and stone'holes in it form parts of a prehistoric cultural assemblage relating to the Stones of Stenness and the settlement at Barnhouse. The Watch Stone is a remarkably fine standing stone, while the settlement at Barnhouse is an exceptionally fine example of a settlement of the period of Skara Brae's first phase. The area has produced firm evidence of use in the prehistoric and early Christian periods and provides an important archaeological context for the visible and excavated elements.



RCAHMS records the monument as HY31SW 11.


Richards C 1992, (n.p.) Survey and Excavation of Barnhouse, Stenness, Orkney 1991: an interim report for Orkney Islands council; on the survey and excavations at Barnhouse.

Richards C 1993, An archaeological study of Neolithic Orkney: Architecture, Order and Social Classification. PhD thesis, Glasgow University.

Ritchie, J N G 1976, 'The Stones of Stenness, Orkney' Proc Soc Antiq Scot 107, 1'60.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Stones of Stenness

Find out more

Related Designations

  1. Barnhouse Stone, standing stoneSM90341

    Designation Type
    Scheduled Monument
  2. Stenness, stone circle and hengeSM90285

    Designation Type
    Scheduled Monument

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

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Watch Stone, stone settings, Barnhouse settlement, and related remains

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 29/05/2020 02:55