Dwarfie Hamars, Hoy
Significance: the site of a small corrie glacier during the Loch Lomond Stadial

Boulder resting on a moraine ridge at Dwarfie Hamars. The weathering pit has developed from loosening of the Ca cement of the quartz sandstone - as on sandstones of similar lithology at Enegars Corrie and Dunnet Head. The boulder has given a cosmogenic exposure age of x 10Be ka

The Dwarfie Hamars (HY245003) is a large rock face on the south side of the col leading into the valley of the South Burn to the south of Ward Hill.  The top of the rock face is about 200 m and the base at about 140 m.  The cliff faces N30˚W.  The location is most notable for the Dwarfie Stane, a rock-cut tomb dating from the 3rd millennium BC (Ritchie, 1985).

A morainic complex lies between the cliff and the lowest part of the col (at about 50 m).  The system can be resolved into three arcuate moraines (Sutherland, 1993) which stretch the length of the free face behind them.  Erratic boulders scatter the surface of the moraines and the largest of these is the Dwarfie Stane.

Where the moraine fronts the rock face, there is little scree but east and west of the moraines the slopes are composed of vegetated scree and the rock face is much reduced in size.  The implication seems to be that the bulk of the scree developed while the glacier that formed the moraines was in existence.

The moraines can be followed to an altitude of about 70 m.  As at Enegars, this is a particularly favourable site for glacier formation, with the broad, almost flat-topped hills behind the Dwarfie Hamars provide extensive areas from which snow could have been blown from both the SE and the SW on to the glacier surface.

Key Geomorphological Sites

  • Significance: a coastline noted for its Devonian geology and coastal geomorphology

  • Significance: this bay lies adjacent to Skara Brae and provides evidence of the interaction between coastal processes and human disturbance between 6600 and 4400 radiocarbon years ago. The settlement first re-emerged from the dunes after a storm in 1850.

  • Significance: this site provides evidence for changing ice-flow conditions during the last ice sheet glaciation

  • Significance: the construction of the Churchill Barriers started in 1940 and led to a fundamental change in the pattern of tidal flow around Scapa Flow. A range of coastal landforms have been created subsequently which illustrate the fundamental control of coastal configuration on the transport and deposition of sand.

  • Significance: Rackwick lies at the southern end of two major glacial breaches on Hoy. Its well-developed moraines indicate that at the close of the last glaciation two lobes of ice retreated northwards at a time when the Pentland Firth was probably still occupied by ice.

  • Significance: The Old Man is the tallest sea stack in Britain, 137 m high

  • Significance: a superb corrie formed at an unusually low elevation that was last occupied by a small glacier only 11,000 years ago

  • Significance: Ward Hill provides examples of a range of active and fossil periglacial landforms. As the highest point on Orkney it also provides evidence of the thickness of the last ice sheet

  • Significance: the site of a former small corrie glacier on Hoy

  • Significance: the site of a small corrie glacier during the Loch Lomond Stadial

  • Significance: a raised beach deposit at 6-12 m asl buried by till

  • Significance: a possible Scandinavian erratic on Orkney.

  • Significance: a peat deposit with willow boles formed 6500 years ago and now lying below sea level

  • Significance: the Kilns of Brin-Novan is an excellent example of an interconnected series of caves, arches and blow-holes which illustrate the sequential development of these features.

  • Significance: this coastal section provides perhaps the best available exposure of the shelly till which is characteristic of the eastern part of Orkney

  • Significance: exceptional cliff scenery and dramatic cliff-top storm deposits