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




Visited 14th August 2013

There are plenty of marked parking bays at the edge of Finstown, just before you leave the village on the way to Stromness, and we left the car here to walk on to Wasdale. A gate gives access into a field next to road, across which a short walk takes you into Binscarth Wood. It’s still lovely and sunny this afternoon, but soon we enter the wood and the warmth of the day is muted by the cool green shade of the verdant canopy above us. We stick to the old drover’s path, as the other tracks through the trees are still muddy, despite the small amount of rain recently. The excited voices of kids playing on the homemade rope swings over the burn provide an accompaniment, and the walk through mature woodland seems jarring after the paucity of trees on the rest of Mainland, but it’s good to be back amongst the thickets, arboreal withdrawal symptoms being one of the few downsides of spending some time on Orkney.

Despite being a veritable forest in Orcadian terms it only take a few minutes for us to be back in the sunlight as we leave the wood behind, and as the path forks a small signpost indicates we bear left to follow the footpath (the right fork will take you up towards Binscarth House). Soon the Wasdale lochan is visible, and in it the tantalising mound, its modern cairn a peedie tower surrounded by the remains of the much older lower courses of stonework.

The water levels in the loch are low, making crossing the stepping stones easy, and soon we are on the island. Although the undergrowth chokes some of the lower stones there is plenty to see. The curve of an exterior wall reminds me of the construction of the walls at the Borwick broch, other stonework looks altogether more jumbled as if built on later, along with some worked stones, and a jumble of rocks just above the level of the water on the north-western side of the islet, that looks like it might have once been a rough pier or landing stage. Canmore lists an intriguing record for this site, encompassing a chapel, enclosure, ancient mound and possible dun, and as you poke about the site you can almost feel the different layers of history, like the skin on an onion, which permeate this little islet.

I soon find an intriguing block of stone near to the island end of the causeway, it is pocked with four ‘cupmarks’ in a line. The depressions are too linear to be natural, but too crude to be modern workings, and I wonder just how old they really are, and whether the stone was scavenged from one of the nearby cairns on the hills overlooking the loch?

We spend some time here, Ellen sketching whilst I write my fieldnotes, just taking in the landscape and atmosphere. The sunny day brings out the best of the colours, the water a coruscating blue around us, reeds flanking the islet a viridian green, with the softer pastels of the surrounding moorland below the azure sky, a perfect place to sit and ponder, and another of Orkney’s ‘off the beaten track wonders’
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
10th September 2013ce

Comments (1)

Nce notes Ravenfeather - enjoyed the read. Posted by CARL
10th September 2013ce
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