Pettigarths Field Cairns

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The Pettigarths Field Cairns are a Neolithic site in the north-east of Whalsay, an island of Shetland. The site is to be found about 150 yards north-west of Benie Hoose.[1] The site contains upright stones as well as masonry.[2]

The south cairn is roughly 20 feet square, with an eastern entrance passage and circular chamber about 7 feet across.[1] 4 yards to the north is a round cairn, 15 feet in diameter, with a rectangular cist.[1] The two cairns are located on a rise,[3] about 150 yards north-west of Benie Hoose.

Location and exploration

The first archaeological explorations were carried out in 1936 and 1938. They were then inferred to be tombs belonging to the Late Stone Age and Early Bronze Age.[4] It was excavated in 1963 by C. S. T. Calder and visited by OS (NKB) on 30 May 1968.[5]


The large cairn has a paved chamber and passage. The chamber is small and is heel-shaped; it is different in layout from three other cairns found in Shetland. The passage into the cairn is through two standing boulders. It is an expanding passage where stones are seen at its inner end. Parts of the jambs are described as the "terminal and lateral recesses of the trefoil." Some remnants of pottery were found here which could not be identified because of the fragmentary nature.[4]

The smaller, circular cairn was excavated up to its foundations. A slab covering was found in the cavity as grave robbers appeared to have tried robbing the tomb's interior. It revealed a trapezoidal slab-built cist of four feet} in length with a paved bottom. The cist has a rubble stone lining, partly surviving. The ring is fifteen feet in diameter; compared to the large sized boulder setting, it is indicative that an outer circular enclosure wall existed at one time.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Castleden, Rodney: 'Neolithic Britain: New Stone Age Sites of England, Scotland, and Wales' (Routledge, 1992) ISBN 978-0-415-05845-2; page 335
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland (1946). Report. p. 85. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  3. Fojut, Noel (August 1994). A guide to prehistoric and Viking Shetland. Shetland Times. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-900662-91-1. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Excavations In Whalsay, Shetland, 1954-5" (pdf). Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. pp. 30, 38-. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  5. "Pettigarth's Field". Scotland's Places. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
Prehistoric Shetland

Benie HooseFunzie GirtHjaltadans Stone CirclePettigarths Field CairnsScord of BrousterStanding Stones of YoxieStanydale TempleVementry

Iron Age brochs

ClickiminCulswickMousaBurra NessClumlieHuxterNess of BurgiSnabroughWest Burrafirth


St Ninian's Isle TreasureLunnasting stone

Mixed period

JarlshofOld Scatness