In early 2005 a cluster of orthostat stones was exposed by coastal erosion at Meur, Sanday, Orkney. The excavation revealed a stone trough within the centre of an open space defined by walls. It was associated with at least one compartment and a secondary corbelled cistern with an overflow drain and was surrounded by a mound of dark soil and burnt stones. This burnt mound structure, comparable with other burnt mounds in the Northern Isles, was occupied at some time between the late 2nd millennium and the mid 1st millennium BC. The evidence from Meur and its comparison with evidence from elsewhere strongly indicates cooking as the primary function of this burnt mound. It is proposed that such cooking took the form of communal feasts that served to optimise the limited resources of the island's land holdings and so maintain social cohesion. This accords with evidence from elsewhere on Sanday for social and economic stability throughout this period.
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