Recent studies, based on the introduction of radiocarbon datings in a bayesian framework, have allowed me to reconsider and refine the chronology of the collective tombs of the Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland (Sévin-Allouet 2013). From these results, it appears that a major rupture in the social organization of populations of the archipelago occurred in the last third of the fourth ... [Show full abstract] millennium BC. The evolution of architectures, and the modification in the selection of people buried, but also the radical changes in methods used for treating the body are evidence of this social change.These elements allow us to consider the passage from a personal hierarchy characterizing a segmental society of the ‘tribal’ type, as defined by Service (Service 1962), to a lineage hierarchy. In the first, relating to people who erected the monuments of the Orkney-Cromarty type, the ‘power by skills’ is exercised at the level of a tribe or a small group. In the second, it seems that the power becomes ‘inherited’. The organization of the rooms and the massive appearance of Maeshowe monuments in the landscape also suggest that power is now monopolized by one or many groups, which are able to mobilize a large workforce over a wide area. Hence, there would have appeared, very early on in this area located on the fringes of northern Europe, the beginnings of a transition to a lineage hierarchy and social organization of the ‘chiefdom’ type.