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Fieldnotes by wideford

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Chapel Knowe (Broch)

Coming from Finstown along the A966 turn right onto the Burness road and soon you can make out the distinctive broch profile right of the farm, I hadn't expected to see anything. Having come a long way I used my binoculars and saw that there were kie in the field. So I bethought to turn down to East Quatquoy and make my way along the shore instead, but a garden extension stopped me short and not expecting to go this way I didn't know the state of the tides so contented myself with distant shots. At high zoom I see a low scoop coming from the mound. I presume this is the assumed chapel enclosure, but it brings to my mind the stony areas landward of two of the Evie brochs. If coming along the coast another time I would try from further back. You can see the tidal islets called the Skerries of Coubister via which one very low tide a man in waders was able to reach Damsay. His idea was folk used this route to reach the island but perhaps it had been the islanders that went the other way to reach the Burness site. For from Chapel Point there is a pre-eminent view from Finstown through Kirkwall all the way around to Crookness, taking in most of the isles in too.

Howan Blo (Cist)

Walk west from the Deerness Stores and ooking up to the former United Free Church of Deerness a long natural mound called Howan Blo is easily seen. I have only seen it from the main road but there is a track goes by. I could see zooming in a slightly terraced slope, either from ploughing or perhaps to make inserting easier. The farm of Blow(e)s is said to be named after it.
In the excavation record I notice two similarities with George Petrie's 1861 dig at Greentoft/Milldam, no great distance away. First the use of loose stone to 'ground' the cists, and more importantly that if someone had removed the funerary urn Petrie found it would have left an urn-shaped cavity of virtually the same dimensions as that at Howan Blo. Which suggest co-evality at least, if not the same potter.

Twi Ness (Cairn(s))

Twi Ness rather than meaning twin-ness is said to be tongue-ness as there is no double headland, but the name Point of Dishan can only go as far back as The Douche so could well have been the other half of a Twi Ness (Doocot Point is shown seperately). The mound sits above the rocky headland. I wonder if the large stones in the cliff face part of a stoney outcrop on which the mound is placed or placed stone ? Because the upright slab being radial sounds like it might be more a divider than an encloser - wheelhouse maybe

Lochview (Standing Stones)

This year they investigated strong circular features shown by geophysics and thought to be revetments [IIRC] for a Wideford-like tomb under the mound, but abandoned this for the time being when their excavation failed to turn up anything substantial. I'm sure if they had followed the common practice of checking a previous antiquarian excavation or the area adjacent they would have had better results. Instead they were (mis)led to an area away on the periphery with less-well defined arcs. At least they seem to have found the edge of the tomb or whatever. However, being perverse, I found twa other things uncovered intriguing. Into/onto the slumped stone mass there is a small sub-circular structure not having the appearance of a chamber - hopefully this is not the planti-creugh shown near the mound on early diagrams, but if not what ? A few feet from this is a depression with some stone tumble - immediately uphill of these two features in the section is an area ?robbed of stone. If it were me I would want to go back and see if either of these two items represents post-monumental activity.

Russel Howe (Cairn(s))

Coming up towards West Bain in Sandwick (near the Bay of Skaill) and two fields to your left a wall made of oversized stones can be seen at the high point. The side facing the road there is still a rise, and I wonder if the cairn overlay something else or if this is the ONB's other tumulus.
It does seem strange that having bothered to clear the cairn they then undid their work by building this massive wall - perhaps they had thought the mound purely natural, and on discovering their error constructed a memorial over the cist ?

Hourston (Crannog)

Having started at the south end of the 'Swartland Drovers Road' trail when just past the present sewage station I chanced to see on my left a small unnamed holm at the top of the Loch of Harray. I think this is most likely a crannog like those in the Voyatown and Swannay districts - the present NMRS designation is quite recent, probably interim. A comparison with the Loch of Wasfale in Firth, going by large-scale maps, this islet is roughly the same length but only half the width, giving as very approximate dimensions 35m by 12m but nowhere near as high. Even unaided you can see that a level mound or platform occupies the central half, with its sides gradually going down to loch level. At high zoom my camera shows at least three large stones (one erect) and a couple more at the back (perimeter wall ?). The stepping stones run NNW from at or near the mound's edge. Following on in this direction the 1st 25" shows a circular stone arrangement offshore at at HY28881965, between the holm and the Wasum site (HY28841971). Ruling out an actual stone circle my guess would be that this had been a cairn, but it looks most rum on said map.

Banks (Chambered Tomb)

The way to both totem tombs is now very well signed, but if you take your eye too long off the piece of road they mass at you'll hit a low bump. There is plenty of construction going on at Banks, where there will be a Tomb of the Otter visitor's centre to complement that for Ronnie's Tomb of the Eagles (have heard no news of Wedgie's survey of that landscape). Hamish has put a weatherproof cover over the present tomb entrance and will be installing a low-level lighting system to help folk. To the south you can see a wartime lookout station [watch your step going that way or you can walk around the coast from nearby Burwick], and here there are several small burial mounds with large stones exposed (Hamish can point out several pieces of interest to prehistorians above the tomb if you don't want to go that far) - unfortunately being with a part I did not get time for photos and the Burwick bus is only for ferry passengers.

Wasdale (Crannog)

With the lochan low went over causeway yesterday, seemed even more exposed than last time I managed to do this. To call it a causeway is to over-egg the pudding as it is more a line of stepping stones (warning -halfway across you have to jump onto the edge of a slab to get between stones). Saturday I had the feeling that the stones could be re-used from the original prehistoric structure on the islet, perhaps when the kirk was founded. Looking back along the mound's northern side from the far end there is a kind of stepping to the turf - one of the two contenders for causing this is a broch of course

Loch of Wasbister (Crannog)

This and the Breta Ness promontory are highly reminiscent of the Loch of Wasdale in Firth where an island and promontory were seen as a kirk and its burial ground.

Oyce of Isbister (Round Barrow(s))

Just as I came into Norseman Village immediately to my left I could make out mounds on the coastline to my left. Missed them before because of the gorse, saw them now because I was looking for something else. Walking between some houses brought me a fraction closer, but as I had the length of the Redland Road from the Lyde Road to Finstown alredy to do contented myself with some photos (better than nothing I hope).

Banks (Chambered Tomb)

Thank you Hamish for another wonderful twa hours. A fortnight ago Orcadians went for free, but that weekend the weather was pish poor so I came now. Still a bargain - not much comes from a fiver in life nowadays and he has made vast improvements for folk, like new signage and a fresh tarmac-ed road for starters. In the near future Hamish is looking to have his farmland geofizzed for a day, but needs must he pays for it his sen. Apart from the passage in the tomb is now fully roofed (with contrasting slabs to show the differ). In the rotunda by the fishpond the feed from the tomb is now shown on a peedie widescreen monitor, the output being guidable to boot.
At the inner end of the passage you now have to kneel down and step down backwards - better for most than a trolley but you canna stand up straight once inside.Of course this tomb hasn't been excavated there completelyto the natural, so one day this stae of affairs might change. Since my previous, chance, visit the other chamber has been opened to the public and the one facin the passage too. There isn't much to see as yet of the new chamber he found (contrary to some archaeologists opinions) under the passage itself though it does go back aways, as revealed by penlight. I had had visions of sticking my digital under the lintel and revealing wonders, but at the moment entry is blocked by the original closure material with just mebbe an inch open directly under the lintel ! Of course some would object to poking in a fingerhole (oops, pardon my French, void) even with a camera. However the way one should look at it is photographic record is essential in case something changes before it is professionally looked at, mistakes are made in excavation and (in the present archaeological climate) promised weeks can turn into decades or even never. Unfortunately the completed roof does make the in situ markings less easy to have a proper gander out.
Luckily there are several fine examples of marked slabs in the rotunda exhibition. Here we were then shown some of the organic material recovered to date. Hamish was very pleased withe the deep interest shown in the skeletal remains shown by not only those with a general interest in physiology but also those of a professional bent such as surgeons and dentists. We were allowed to handle very healthy looking teeth and also less healthy bones that showied clear evidence of arthritis [?osteoporosis]. One tooth the size of a small pearl came from a toddler. As well as limbs we saw ribs and the kneebone of a ten or eleven year old. Intersting though these were best were the fragments of skulls, every one of them rather thin apart from a very thick piece that had protected the brain stem. Even so it looked overthick, like four heavy-duty homemade ashtrays welded together. Finally Hamish passed round pieces of shaped pot decorated in various ways. If I heard him correctly there are thought to be two different traditions present. Certainly there are also several kinds of decoration, both by stroke and impression. We agreed with him that the stand-out potsherd was one very dark piece, almost black, that appeared as if someone had made downward slashes with a knife point all the way around the rim - apparently this one is very much a mystery at present, perhaps ?? a one-off.

Pickaquoy (Cairn(s))

The mound is now on the edge of the new housing development

Saverock (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia)

The burnt mound is on the LH side of the road onto the new Hatston pier amongst the new industrial development. Unfortunately it is now fully enclosed by a fence with not even a gate for access. An opportunity for excavation missed.

Nettletar (Broch)

NMRS record no. HY31NW 38 at HY32321741 in an area also known as Noltland. From Noltland 'cattle land' Hedges suggests that the original name comes from Nolt+Clettr 'cattle rock'.but is unable to come up with anything in the vicinity that would have given rise to this name. I would suggest that perhaps the Vikings saw the broch mound as having been 'calved' by the burn. At the end of a long walk I wasn't up to making my way to the broch but made observations from various places. To see the interior good views can be had from the Howe road that runs beside the Harray Manse. Going back onto the main road I first saw the broch by looking straight across from the site of the Knowe of Brinnanea where the burn meets the road. I find it difficult to realise that I must have been looking directly at it several times previously. Eye unaided I would have seen it as simply a fieldwall of white stones like shiny pearl teeth. Admittedly there is such a wall beside it, but with camera and binoculars the stone is truly monumental, much bigger in size and more regular in shape.

Ness of Brodgar (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Covering the site for next year was well in hand on Thursday, with the building in the far corner already fully blanketed in black plastic. So I had a bit of a race against time. Actually as far as making sense of the site is concerned it is much easier to make out the structures, especially the walls, with the plastic sheet laid on the floors ! After photographing all you would need to to do is 'photoshop' the black for a less obtrusive contrast in colour. Today another big deep hearth stood out. Very close to it are two large slabs on edge making a likely corner. The hearth seems a little close to be connected or respecting it (though it could mirror the hearth's far left corner). One side is a thick rectangular slab and the other is thinner and has one angled end. On the other hand the latter also looks to line up with an edge of a thick tall-ish ortostat. Both have narrow horizontal slabs by them at ground level (that at the orthostat resembling part of a standing stone socket) and another in the space between them. From the orthostat another much lower orthostat runs to the wall of a structure, and by its RH side a small paved area [?entrance] ends at another wall. In the photograph I can see a slighly angled orthostat built into the ? far wall of the structure. Of course even looking from other directions perspective might be misleading me. But a diagram to help you see would fall foul of ORCA's no image policy. There are at least two fallen rectangular stone near all of this, one of which might well have formed a wall with the rectangular and another abutting the angle of the corner to its left. I had a look at the drain exposed below the paved circular passage near the viewing platform. It is not much wider than a small soil pipe and bounded by a mostly thin coursed wall, though there is one stone on its long edge I can see. All over the site there are the tops of walls and fallen slabs, the latter as likely isolated as not. Unlike the north end (I can even make out the N/S baulk in one image) the view from the west end spoil heap is really a mish-mash at this stage in the cover-up. Along the south end the tapes were gone. So I finally had a chance fror a peak from this direction, treading carefully like the seasoned digger I had been. I am particularly struck by a horizontal lang stane, virtually by itself, closely parallel to what was/is the E/W baulk about half-way along the east 'arm'. What is visible is mid-brown, five to six feet long and about the thickness of a brick wall course. The long edge facing me seemed to have a square cut running along the top but I see it is simply that this is a roughly flat edge [??natural]. From here I can see that my corner is less so - there is a gap before the angled slab, which is thin, and the other two stones are the true corner. But all of it is on the same 'grid', with at least another three walls on the same alignment [NW/SE if the baulks do run cardinally] between the walls/structure directly ahint the corner and the site's east end by the north end of the platform. Nick Card has noticed where I am and calls me out as this part of the site is still sacrosanct. I try to see the lang stane from the viewing platform ramp but cannot, though a digger near to it is working close to it and in front of her may be another one [?? or the same], for I can see a big long block with a horizontal split hard against the baulk. Leaving I take a gander at the finds 'trays' outside being packed. I see that large potsherd with deep ribs and two of the smooth stone balls, one an oblate spheroid and the other an almost complete ovoid with a linear crack running around it (and a piece from elsewhere detached on it, sandy coloured inside).

Reached the Ness of Brodgar around dinner-time, in between the guided tours, so decided not to ask to look at the finds. Re Brodgar Boy what in one view did look idol-like (despite that lop-sided third 'eye') in another was distinctly a broken-off top with a short 'stem' at the bottom. Now that the rest has been found the object is two-and-a-half times as long and looks like a mini-staff (a symbol of authority and/or for ceremonies, or a representation of one ?). Including the 'neck' and that stem there are three circumferential grooves that might have been for rope - you can easily imagine it with tassels ! In digging the midden of Structure Eight they have found a stone incised with an earth sign [Pars Fortuna]. . Structure One has so far produced several dozen incised stones, the last what what they take for a representation of a comet (but a circle with three trailing lines has other meanings). But the most common symbol is what they are calling a double-triangle and associating with a bee, though these also been 'read' elsewhere as butterflies (over at Banks Chambered Tomb there are vees/chevrons, which are seen as birds). Pre C14 dating one at Stonehenge was wrongly identified with the Cretan labrys (double-axe). Much has been made of Stenness infuence on the Avebury area, so is this another indicator ? Finally on site the Neolithic roof tiles were removed, only for more to be revealed at the same place after further digging - the imp of the perverse wonders if this is a dump rather than collapse in sensu strictu.
Despite the very strong wind the first thing that I did was go up the viewing platform. The lighting being distinctly flat all structures tended to merge - in these conditions what is needed for photographing features is a little light rain I recall. First new item to 'pop out' the monumental hearth in Structure Ten. ImmediatelyI thought of the one in the Stones of Stenness circle, though I think comparisons will instead be made with Barnhouse 'village'. Next I saw a long slab with ends framed by angle topped orthostats. This must be the probable Structure Ten entrance they have found - having been caught out before by dodgy contexts they are holding back judgement until they can be certain it does not belong to another period or structure (I saw what could be another rectangular feature [or part of a passage/'street'] directly in front of it). Coming down again it did not surprise me that nothing further has happened to the NE corner that took my fancy when I came here with Orkney Blide Trust the previous week (not realising we would stay for the whole 90 minute tour I'd had to come back for The Work photography) as it is at the very edge of the dig. The day I came seemed to be dedicated to cleaning and recording several parts of the site so I tried to avoid getting in their way. Nothing major looks to have appeared in the sides overlooked by the spoil heaps - I would dearly love to find out where that drain goes to in the piece by the western edge. Filling the appended SW corner Structure Twelve still sits in splendid isolation from the rest of the buildings as far as I can tell. Either that will change in future seasons or it is telling us something. Going round the final side and that massive squat standing stone still has pride of place in the SE corner. Does it extend much below what we see now or will it prove as shallow rooted as the red orthostat they have recently removed ?
Last year they lterally got to the bottom of the Lesser Wall of Brodgar, only to find that it stood on paving and possibly earlier structures. This year geophysics has confirmed that it bridges the ness and it is back to being part of a wall circuit encompassing the site they are investigating (could the paving be an extended base ??). The Kockna-Cumming chambered mound still lies outside the whole and the Brodgar Standing Stone Pair straddle the wall. Are the stones from a prior age or were they put there later than the wall, either much later to show where it was or immediately after to mark it out ? Don't be misled by its narrowness in comparison to the Great Wall as only a ditch seperated the 4m thick Great Wall from one ouside of it 'only' 2m thick. Still thicker though - might there be a presently unlocated other Great Wall in parts still virgin to excavation ?? If the remains below the Lesser Wall are from an earlier period then might we re-interpret the putatative structures and likely hearth found in testing outside the Great Wall as coming from that time too instead of post-dating the wall as originally theorised? Certainly the public perception of the wall's primacy needs revising. Indeed it is my opinion the that the Great Wall (and possibly the circuit) comes yet later in the scheme of things than first thought.

From the main road about one field west of the Stenness Kirk junction you can see that the profile of the Ness of Brodgar follows that of the Black Hill of Warbister in view behind it, or rather the sub-hill which the Bookan Tomb presides over.

Banks (Chambered Tomb)

A long and lovely ride up hill and down dale into the South Parish. Before getting to the branch road there is the one that passes the post office where you need to go for the key to the church (along the road to Burwick) that now holds the Ladykirk Stone (a.k.a. St Magnus Boat) once in another now gone. This stone has two foot hollows. A sandstone block bearing the 'impression' of a right foot alone was found in St Andrew's in the area where you find Mine Howe [Stoney Howe], Round Howe and Long Howe so is likely to have been similarly in (St Ninian's) Chapel.

Going by road it is not difficult to miss the turn-off for the Tomb of The Eagles despite the direction marker. Should have one opposite the junction as well. Once on the right road you then need to make sure to take the correct piece for the Banks Bistro rather than that for Liddel/Liddle and the Isbister tomb. To the right of the final stretch I see a large conical mound, too large to have been missed before now and too clean-cut to be prehistoric (unlike CANMAP on the newer Canmore Mapping they do mark the Banks tomb). On leaving the bus the horizon presented several panoramas; long lines of cliff and Muckle Skerry with its lighthouse. Nearer to my left I saw a section of cliff lit up on the far side of a narrow inlet. At its far end the earth dips down and there is what I take for a mound though my photo only resembles two horns of stripped turf. Further away and near the horizon there is a wall of weather coming in across the waters to my right. The 'Tomb of The Otters' is slap bang by the customer car park. Only now do I find out none of my companions had realised about the tomb being here, they've come for the culinary experience after their walk. My gaffe. The weather arrives light summer rain. Decide it would be a good idea to check whether I can publish photos to the Net. A young lady passes me on to the finder, Hamish Mowatt, who guesses that I am Wideford but has no firm opinion in response to my question.

The mound is said to be low. It actually stands a couple of feet proud of the surrounding land, which is nae bad really. We decide that I shall concentrate on the recently restored chamber that first brought attention to the cairn - you can still see a circle above the top of the rock-cut rear wall where he frst peered in. Last year he found a long heavy slab buried alongside the damaged chamber. All that had been above ground had been a few inches of litch covered corner. On the edge facing into the ground Hamish found a host of markings made in antiquity. An attempt was made to downplay its relationship to the tomb itself - ah, that sacred phrase "in situ" is being applied way too restrictively here, because not only had the stone been buried alongside the disturbed chamber but it also slots into place to complete the capping in the chamber's restoration, not merely somewhere in the vicinity as "not in situ" implies. In April the owner and a Rousay mason affectionately known as Colin 'Bin Laden' followed Orcadian tradition and sensitively restored the damaged chamber. The stones added to complete the passage were keyed into the existing stones at two key points. To roof the chamber they put back the slab hit by the digger and placed the buried stone over the front of the chamber, where the way that it slotted in confirmed the original fit. In between was filled in by a new slab taken from the shore below. Altogether, even using the digger, it took two days to finish the job - from seven in the morning to seven in the evening of the first day and until four in the afternoon of the second day. The final result justifies the decision to ignore the archaeological authorities leave the capstone over the eastern chamber in place, giving the public a proper idea of how the tomb looked - the purpose of a capstone is to stop the whole falling apart. It is interesting to speculate about when the tomb was 'decommissioned' by the removal of that roofing slab, especially in relation to the otter incursions chronology.

The man's a gae good yarn teller, can tell you all kinds of stuff to do with the locality and his experience of the archaeologist in the field. Could have listened to him until the cows came home, as it were. Only the truth of it comes from him, though a visiting archaeological student will give good tours when he comes to work here. Hamish mentioned that he had more marked stones in a shed. Whilst he answered the phone I took my photos of this end of the tomb as agreed - unfortunately my foties of the chamber's actual insides weren't up to snuff, but the important ones were. When I moved away his work on the phone came to a close and he was gracious enough to show me the writings. The shed turned out to be a fair sized new wooden rotunda that acted as his peedie interpretation centre, with info around the walls and a camera feed to the chamber at the other end of the long axis. On a table in the middle are three stones full of promise. One is dominated visually by a single vee of large size and broad lines upside-down at the edge [from a larger slab I would hazard]. Some authority tried to claim that this sign owes its existence to contact with the digger, which is bull (as you can see by comparing its mark on the roofing slab with this, no comparison at all !). Indeed along the left channel you can see the individual tool marks made in gouging the channel in antiquity. Lines criss-cross other two stones, both singletons and simple sets. The next day I visited St Magnus Cathedral and noticed some of the blocks have thin straight lines of crystal inclusion gathered in similar groups, imitation using grooves the sincerest form of flattery possibly. If the vees are seen as chevrons it brings up the thorny question of which came first, scribed stones or decorated pot. Of course this assumes that all the 'inscriptions' are art rather than palaeoepigraphy [pre-writing].One of the stones seems to me to distantly foreshadow the Pictish symbol stone as it is more a geometrical shape than a split slab or found rock.

Next week Alice Roberts will be followed by 360 Production as they continue their behind the scenes look at "Digging for Britain". Perhaps Sigurd Towrie could use the opportunity to bring the story up to date from material gathered since his last report. Hamish Mowatt had been hoping to start up a webpage but a family death and pressure of work have meant that this has had to be put on the backburner, for this year at least. Though not wishing to be involved with material remains such as bones it is possible that he might eventually follow further in the steps of Ronnie Simison (though not alone) if he ends up in the same position - several times in the local papers from 1825 on I have come across reports where the excavator stated his intent to dig the next year or come back for a continuance, and then decades or even a century later still nothing has happened. Of course the modern reasoning is that these sites are being left to posterity and its advances rather than in reality lack of funding or the search for the next big/new site. He has learned about the different factions amongst the archaeologists, and having found that there are still digs in Orkney where finds are collared by those who did not find them now only has faith in ORCA and the County Archaeologist, like Ronnie having been disparaged by some who should know better.
Speaking of which I was surprised to learn that John Hedges is still renting a nearby cottage, over towards Liddle, as he further investigates the prehistoric landscape brought to light by Ronnie Simison. 'Wedgie' would love another major site to crown his life's work, after an hiatus due to debilitating illness, but apart from one eventually disappointing 'settlement' has been unlucky thus far. Apparently the great man has made many reports and such on his work at this time. However I must imagine this has been in the nature of what they call 'grey literature' as apart from a initial outline in "The Orcadian" things have been quiet [one would dread it going the same way as the digs at Skaill in Deerness]. We would love an interim 'work in progress' article in the paper guv.

Came time for lunch. Gourmet meals for £10.95 pretty as a picture and filling too. Half the price for a light meal, say £3.50 to a fiver. Had a toasted sandwich - they also do ordinary ones, paninis and baked tatties. Ignored the lovely sounding home made desserts and plumped for a clotted cream tea for four pounds fifty. Gosh it did me grand.

The Blide Trust were making enquiries about a fishing trip. Then on the skyline Hamish showed me the mounds Ronnie had investigated between here and the Tomb of The Eagles, and described one in particular, inviting me back to the neighbourhood to see more. I had to be virtually dragged away. Ah, if I had money or transport. Closest are four turf-covered mounds that may be natural. Next comes a group of six low stone cairns averaging 28 feet across and two high, with the largest a fraction over half as high again and forty-eight feet in diameter. These are now described as disturbed - in 1973 Ronnie had trenched two and it is easy to imagine him having gone on to the rest next. The NGR is given as ND46128326 but a 1997 survey gives this as ND460432 with additionally a possibly prehistoric mound at ND462833. Ronnie is known two have dug two mounds with drystane wall kerbs and the O.S. thought one might be linked by a causeway to yet another [double BA house ??]. Further along a probable animal pound (a term almost as useless for dating as "enclosure") had been formed by walling off the SW end of a promontory an area some sixty by forty metres, and has another kerbed cairn within (at ND46338323) that he was investigating at the time of the O.S. visit [is that what I saw on first alighting ?? Too big]. Underneath a cairn of more recent vintage grass covers a mound 2' high and about 8m diameter. There ws a double kerb found at the south around a body of stones with some earth, with small horizontal slabs between the twa kerbs - a trench at the SW, then unfinished, found two stones of purpose unknown but larger than the fill. The inner arc seemed to be drystane walling but the outer had been made from larger blocks, both being in courses. If you do go this way to the Tomb of The Eagles don't forget to go back by way of the burnt mound to the Simison's museum and cafe so you can pay the tomb's entrance fee. Fair do's.

Starting for Kirkwall the massively ugly tires at Burwick are offset for me by the sight of the grass dressed iron age fort (though you have to know where it is to see it).

Any errors and omissions are mine

Southtown (Burray), St Lawrence Church (Broch)

Coming from South Ronaldsay after the 4th Churchill Barrier where the A961 turns sharp left to Burray village instead take a right turn onto the Ness road, signposted for the cemetery. Upon reaching Leith the cemetery road goes down directly by Leith's east side. I had thought to look for any remains that might have survived from the earlier church, but as I passed along to the shore it became obvious that before the Viking estate a broch had stood here. No reference exists to one here, but my fellow Brochaholic Dave said he always thought there should be many more in these South Isles than hitherto suspected. Perhaps this is because despite the monumentality of the mound/s there is a distinct lack of stonework (hopefully because still covered over), though when you think many stones must have been removed before kirk was built the landowners have kept it rather well preserved. It has elements reminding me of three other chapel brochs; the old Holm parish church and Warebeth in Stromness and Overbrough in Harray. The roofless church sits on top of the broch tower mound and the majority of the outer settlement looks to be between it and the nearby burn [to my eyes that is]. For the most part the broch surrounds the kirkyard on the north and west over to the path to the shore. The 17thC church appears to be towards the edge of the tower, either because the old kirkyard has gone or because an early chapel was attached to a Norse hall. It sits in ground above the rest of the kirkyard as there is a two foot deep rectangular cut through the mound. The old wall at the east end looks deeper and a little different in character also.
And the church is worth a visit for itself !

Stembister (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Taking the road to Deerness, after the St.Andrew's School junction you come to the Stembister junction in the Upper Sanday district. This road you then follow all the way to the Stembister millstream. Once over this you should find a place to park your vehicle before going on to the farm. Be careful not to disturb the ducks and geese as you pass through farmyard. The stone is on the northern end of the wifey's drying green a short distance in front of the house.
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Unemployed and so plenty of spare time for researching contributors' questions and queries and for making corrections. Antiquarian and naturalist. Mode of transport shanks's pony. Talent unnecessary endurance. I love brochs.

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