|Took the same bus as last time. Coming up the road I ponder why it is that once you know where it straddles the fenceline the rise that is all that is left of Big Howe broch is very ovbvious and yet it is basically uncapturable by cameras. A higher tide meant no seals in the Loch of Stenness only a few swans near the bridge, but no nesting ones. By the east side the tops of submerged plantss made two ovals in the water with green 'pins'. Just below the surface that line of small slabs running from near the north end of the bridge towards Odin Cottage form a long green rectangle. Strange they do not head off to that similar but kinked line coming from the other direction. Have they been stepping stones from when the waters were much lower ? They certainly contrast with the narrow lines of dark rocks in the vicinity. I wonder if there were saltings here as there were abouthands of the Brig o' Waithe and many many other places around Orkney's coastline ? Saltings are created by making a place where the seawater can come in at high tide but is then left behind later and left to dry out in the sun to leave the salt. The same technique is used for fish traps, so perhaps an accidental 'combining' of the two is how salted fish came into being as a preserving method.
This time dinnertime really was the diggers dinner time. Which was fortunate as covering the site for next year was well in hand, with the building in the far corner already fully blanketed in black plastic. So I had a bit of a race against time to complete today's mission. 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 more useful 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. A diagram would help you see but this would fall under ORCA's no image edict for sure. 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 (dark) and the other an almost complete ovoid (lighter) with a linear crack running around it (and a piece from elsewhere detached on it, sandy coloured inside).
On the way back I'm not too concerned about meeting a bus. Then I see one almost at Tormiston. If that was the 1.30 from Stromness it would have only had five minutes. Not likely is it. My sort of look though. Coming to the main road there were two people beside the road. Going by the cars going by them I figured that they were on this side, so when I saw my bus coming I didn't run pell-mell for it [last time I did that my upper denture plate rattled loose in my mouth]. But the twa weren't awaiting it so the bus shot through at high speed - I do wish they would expand the timetable to match the usual time the driver does, now every time of day is treated the same. Only missed it by yards. Just the time I took to snap a bee a couple of times with my camera. And the deutsche girls were waiting a lift or bus in the other direction ! So another hour to go.
Went to Tormiston and walked up the first section of the track to Maes Howe to take images of the boundary - not going to the mound so no need to pay. Took a few very distant snaps of the circles and Brodgar. After that on the road again. Didn't quite make it to the Harray junction but when the bus came trotted to a place the driver could see around the big bend. Then back to Orkney Blide Trust to finish a piece.
Posted by wideford
28th August 2011ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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