The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Broch of Borwick



Visited 1st November 2012

The weather is as fine as you could wish for on a winter's day, with no wind, certainly a rarity in Orkney, and the sun giving off a weak warmth from the clear blue sky. The coastline of Yesnaby is fantastic, and we've often walked here, but never yet to the broch. At the remains of the old shore battery at Yesnaby we park up, if you head to the left you will soon come to the impressive seastack of Yesnaby castle, but today we head right along the cliftop instead and towards the broch.

Although the fields are a bit muddy from the recent rain, we pick our way across them, surveyed by curious cows, and climb over a couple of stiles which bridge the 'standing stone' fences which divide up the fields here. Soon the broch is visible on its headland, and straight away I'm pleasently surprised by how much remains, particularly after having seen the sad remains of the nearby Oxtro broch earlier. The intact doorway beckons you in, and the walls must rise to around six feet in height at the front of the tower. The doorway now though is chocked with rubble and the entrance low.

I pick my way around the edge of the tower, very close to the cliff edge, and feeling a bit like a character from a videogame, before I step over the remains of the seaward wall which has now mostly gone after fifteen centuries of battering from the prevailing winds. Inside much of the stonework has fallen into the centre of the tower leaving a jumble of stones.

Although both smaler and more ruined that Orkney's more famous brochs of Midhowe and Gurness, Borwick is hidden gem and certainly worth a visit. We sit down on a grassy hummock at the back of the broch and watch the sea crashing against the rocks at the foot of us. It's warm enough to sit comfortably, and taking previous contributor JCHC's advice break out the flask for a nice cup of coffee. The only sounds are the sounds of the sea and the trickle of the waterfall next to us as it tumbles over the rocks down to the shore.

The vivid colours of the clear northern light give the landscape a painterly quality, and as we sit here watching the sun dip lower everything seems a bit surreal. Ellen and I sit together quietly lost in our own thoughts as sun sets to our left, colouring the sea a blood red. A place like this is a wonderful spot to just sit and take everything in, to absorb the magical atmosphere of Orkney, but now as the sun sets the chill of evening starts to bite, so we set off back on our walk to the car.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
20th January 2013ce

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