Day 9 of my holiday and my first day on Orkney!
I couldn’t have picked a better place to start my ‘Grand Tour’.
We caught the morning ferry over from Gills (boy was it windy!) and we arrived at Banks late morning. As we pulled up in the car park a lady approached us and asked if we had come for a tour of the chambered cairn? – Which of course we had. Karen stayed in the car with Sophie while Dafydd and myself walked over to the tomb, along with Barbara our guide.
Barbara pulled the wooden board out of the way which was blocking the entrance to the tomb and the 3 of us climbed down backwards. Barbara gave us an overview of the tomb and explained that 3 of the chambers had not yet been excavated but would be this summer.
We then had time to have a look in the chambers which had been excavated. Barbara was excellent with Dafydd and was surprised by his knowledge of burial chambers!
She also said he was the first visitor to the tomb who could walk along the passage without needing to bend down! Dafydd insisted on helping Barbara with her torch.
We then vacated the tomb and were shown into the nearby wooden shed.
Here Barbara carefully took various finds out of a box for us to hold or look at. These included human and animal bones, an antler tool pick and the stones scratched with lines.
We were able to hold the antler tool, a knee bone and the stones but not the leg bone.
It was great to visit a site still under investigation and who knows what they will find when they resume the dig this summer? It only cost £5 for what was in affect a private tour and I have to say that Barbara was excellent with Dafydd – an absolute bargain.
Banks is clearly a ‘work in progress’ in terms of establishing itself as a visitor attraction and it feels a bit ‘rough and ready’ - although I think this only adds to the charm of a visit. I am sure in the future it will be as ‘polished’ as a visit to the nearby Tomb of the Eagles. It is nice to be able to say I visited the site before the ‘polish’ is applied!
This is a top notch place to visit and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Along with the Tomb of the Eagles this is a MUST SEE site on South Ronaldsay.
If you happen to read this Barbara, thanks for helping make our visit such a memorable one.
Posted by CARL
6th July 2012ce