Mapping Medieval Birsay


Dan Lee explaining the mapping process to the volunteers

Experts Dan Lee and Kevin Kerr from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute were on hand to assist a willing band of volunteers to complete an archaeological survey in Palace Village, Birsay on Friday 25th August. The survey will continue on Saturday.

Dan Lee explained the importance of Birsay as a Medieval Centre for Orkney. The village has changed over hundreds of years  and Dan provided the volunteers with maps of 3 phases of building  (1882,1902, today) to explore and record the changes that have taken place with the built heritage.

The walk-over survey is the start to a longer process to build up a picture of what Medieval Birsay was like. The Friday consisted of a walk around the centre of the current village and recording where dressed red sandstone could be found. The red sandstone may originally have come from the Bishop’s Palace that once existed on that location as it is a stone used in high status buildings.


On the Saturday the mapping and recording will go onto Manse Well and the surrounding fields leading towards the Barony Mill.

This project is part of Mapping Magnus details of which can be downloaded here:

Community Archaeology Mapping Magnus Ad low res

A video of the day showing some of the dressed red sandstone can be viewed here .

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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