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W of Stromness

Very little remains of the broch at Warebeth Churchyard, a little was documented in the cliff-face below it but I can find no trace at all myself. All I could find was a culvert slightly hidden only just beyond the eastern end of the graveyard that might more easily be to do with the later features. If you look for the church it isn't obvious whether the few tall brown stone walls and interesting bits of sculpture inside the kirk see truly belong to it or to some of the dead (who may alternatively later have had items taken for their own graves, for certainly some of the sculpture is either misplaced or disturbed). Warebeth Beach is very popular with Orcadians, a contrast with cliff-lofted beach bereft Yesnaby further up the coast (which also has its admirers).
I followed the coastline all the way round. Definitely for the fit or foolhardy - even I only felt safe keeping hold of the fence in those places in which there was little more than about a foot of cliff-edge to step on. Might have been better instead risking the shoreline ,despite the occasional slippery sections . Much interesting stonework on my way. Not all could be put down to field walls (especially coming nearer Breckness where I may have glimpsed the odd orthostat) and the work on some of the ditch outlets felt more than simple usefulness would dictate. This being a difficult line of coast it would not surprise me if better trained eyes than mine could find new sites, or at least features unmapped.
Only just around the corner from the beach I happened upon two gentlemen engaged in building on the shore. Perhaps a touch of experimental archaeology ?? Close by the cliff one was nearly finished building up a circular wall inside which was at least one division. Perhaps farmers or fisherman were about this structure ?
It was by going up a wide ditch, presently dry, knee-deep in vegatation that I reached the end of the field with the Leafea stones. From here I could fill my camera with their image. After getting back I realised that the way chosen was the worst of several to reach Leafea and Brockan (it strikes me with hindsight that the best way is likely to be not to go down the turnoff to Warebeth but instead continue along to where the Outertown road takes a sharp turn and go around the field edges at that point). The two standing stones (1 & 1.2m high) are at right angles to the coast, earthfast. Not part of the arrangement were a couple of natural boulders of which one filled the gap.The sory goes that a dog unearthed human bones at the stones' base. Now the uppermost stone is part of the barb-wire fence. It is often difficult to fathom why some stones are chosen and loads of others aren't. Just behind where I stood (HY23040928) is one of decent height, either side of where ditch meets coast are another two (HY22980917,HY22990917) and I think I remember another on the way up. All these ones differ from Leafea by being the usual taller than they are broad.
My first picture of Brockan I shot here too. I took several more from nearer the Outertown road later but I think it looks better from below. Even on CANMAP this is still down as a chambered tomb. Understandable for the size. But a partial excavation found two chambers each with a short passage leading to a common paved stone-walled enclosure. So CANMORE says present thinking is a secondary broch settlement or a small Skara Brae type village. Despite, or perhaps because of, the proximity of both Warebeth and Breckness I don't quite buy it as the former.Three stones still protrude from the top. I tried several other tracks to approach it but none came much closer. Looked at from the road there appears to be a possible something in the field to its left, though admittedly only a possible cropmark. There used to be a Brockan Standing Stone at HY23140987.
Finally I reached Breckness. "Almost entirely destroyed" all that is left is visible on the eroding cliff. It may be very little compared to what was once there but there is surely value in a vertical section that gradually reveals itself without any person having to excavate it ! And it goes a long ways along the cliff, over two points of the coast. Either side of the central broch there is 20~30m of settlement, and the broch itself nearly 12m diameter. Apparently there is a slice of a chapel in there too, which I wish I had known at the time. The most obvious structures at this stage in its unveiling are slab-sided floor drains. My photos will tell the story better - all very impressive after Ingshowe and Berstane.
For one of the wide-angle shots I backed well away from the cliff and looking behind suddenly saw a fair number of seals out sunning themselves close to my position on the black rockbeds. Being quiet here they showed no signs of being frightened away. Leaving the shore it was necessary to let down a floppy wire gate and under the electric fence adjoining it. Up above there's nary a trace of the broch. Breckness House was a disappointment even for a derelict house, not truly standing out amongst the other mid-brown buildings. Near the cliff there are an amazing number of slabs flat underfoot. It is believed that these are to do with the garden but you just wonder...
Going up to the road passed at least one decent standing stone (up on a field edge opposite a track between two other fields). Decided to continue to the far end of the road.
At the bridge over the Burn of Streather there is a curious bit over the left wall. About the burn here is a flat sub-rectangular patch of land (HY22871036) which is incompletely bordered by walls whose only purpose is to contain it. Further down the burn is Don Burnt Mound (HY227103). The other side of the road there is marked a cairn below Feolquoy the cairn (HY22711061) if still there is the slightest of swells in the grass. The track, as the road now is, ends at Quoydon . At the near corner of the field to its right there is a small triangle of land between two branches of a stream. On this is the grassed over foundation of some peedie structure (HY22471091), and I ate my lunch on it. Lastly I went to the well further up the field (HY22361097). Well it is a well, but a big circle of deep water flush with the ground and having large alien streamers of vegetation down into it - not what you'd call pretty. There is ?another to its right that is coverd by iron sheeting.
Going back about Stromness rather than through it I came to the main Kirkwall-Stromness road and thought I had a chance to finally 'do' the Deepdale Stones. Except I still got it wrong. What I had actually spotted previously were Deepdale Cottage stones. To the left of Deepdale Cottage is a short sandy-coloured standing stone and in front of it a triangular block of the same colour. There are a few other stones about these of different constitution and there may be some earthwork arcing about. On the opposite side of the road at Deepdale is a solitary standing stone of a different complexion, lichen-covered like many another. Continuing around the hill you come to a large patch of rough ground and it is off the top left corner of this that the actual Deepdale Stones are located.

wideford Posted by wideford
16th May 2004ce
Edited 16th May 2004ce

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