Scheduled Monument

Maes Howe, chambered cairnSM90209

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
HY 31829 12772
331829, 1012772


The monument is a chambered cairn on a large platform, and a large surrounding flat-bottomed ditch, an outer turf bank and associated and earlier remains, all known collectively as Maes Howe.

The monument includes the chambered tomb and the large platform and ditch, the turf bank and the remains of other features including stone-sockets. It also includes other remains associated with this and other phases of use of the area for ritual and ceremonial purposes.

The area to be scheduled is approximately elliptical on plan. It measures 130m NW-SE or thereabouts, and 120m NE-SW or thereabouts. It comprises the area in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland and a band of ground 10m across outside the outermost edges of the area in state care. It excludes all existing modern fences.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance, indeed international importance, as part of the core of a mainly third and second millennium BC (although including elements which may be of late 4th millennium BC date) ritual landscape. The architecturally exceptionally fine chambered tomb with its platform and ditch is important both as a field monument and because excavation has shown that it contains important information about the religious, ceremonial and funerary practices of late fourth, third and second millennium societies.

The monument is also important because other monuments within a broader area extending to the western horizons seem to have been sited in relationship to it. The monument is of additional importance because the chamber contains (together with other carvings) the finest collection of stone-carved Norse runes in the world.



RCAHMS records the monument as HY 31 SW 1.


Davidson, J L and Henshall, A S, 1989, The chambered cairns of Orkney: an inventory of the structures and their contents, Edinburgh, 142-6, no. 36.

Renfrew, A C, 1978, Investigations in Orkney, Society of Antiquaries of London, Research Report No. 38, London, 23-6, 31-8.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Maes Howe Chambered Cairn

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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 (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. 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


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Printed: 17/01/2022 18:54