Standing Stones of Yoxie

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The Standing Stones of Yoxie

The Standing Stones of Yoxie are a Neolithic group of standing stones on the north-eastern coast of Whalsay, in Shetland.[1] The site is located approximately 100 yards south-east of Benie Hoose, a Neolithic habitation, not far from the steep cliffs of Yoxie Geo.[2] The site is also known as "Yoxie Biggins".[3]

The structure is the remains of a building in a Neolithic settlement called Pettigarths Field, about 4,000 years old, which also includes a megalithic tomb[4] and Benie Hoose.[5] The site has been compared to that of the Hal Tarxien temple in Malta.[6]


The earlier assessment that the monument was built as a standing stone grouping has since been revised. It is now known to consist of a building partitioned into rooms.[7] The "standing stones" name is derived from the fact that the walls were built in part from megaliths, many of them still erect.[3] The building was once about 60 feet by 36 feet in size, but little remains of the northern part. There is a main L-shaped block to the west, and a smaller forecourt to the east. There are no traces of door fixtures. A paved passage lined with stone boulders runs through the house, and traces of the paving continue through a circular room that it divides into two recessed sections.[8]


The site seems to have been occupied for a long period of time.[3]

A local belief has grown up that the stones were used for ceremonies by Druid priests who lived at Benie Hoose,[9] though the stones were erected 2,000 years before there were druids. Despite this the excavator, C.S.T. Calder, interpreted Yoxie as the remains of a temple, and Benie Hoose as a house that may have been used by the priests.[10] He felt there were indications that this structure, and another similar one at Stanydale on Mainland, Shetland, were used for religious purposes.

If Calder’s speculation is right, Yoxie and Stanydale would be the first known temples in the British Isles.[11] However, early and middle Neolithic society does not appear to have had complex social structures such as a priestly caste.[12] It is now thought that both Yoxie and Benie are simply prehistoric houses.


Artefacts and material from the early and late Bronze Ages have been found.[13]

Some of the finds are Iron Age,[14] while some date to the original Neolithic age settlement and others to a later occupation of the site in Iron Age.[8]

Pottery remains have been found in both houses.[10] One large vessel found in Yoxie was very similar to a plain Bipartite Urn, possibly used for storing barley.[15]

More than 120 tools made of stone in a crude form have been unearthed in Yoxie.


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