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


Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


Before leaving Kirkwall as you reach the Hatston Industrial Estate junction take the lower road till you reach the turnoff for the new pier. Beyond you see a field fence on the same side. Walk towards it and you'll see the burn going down to the shore which you now follow. It is very rough pasture with hidden holes and barely buried bits of woodwork along the way. The burn at this the beginning points straight at the middle of a mound. Saverock burnt mound is RCAHMS NMRS record no. HY41SW6 at HY43481280. About 20m away from the edge of the mound the burn turns slightly to the left.
What you come to is a grassy mound a couple of metres high. No features at all (though apparently it is a channel cut across the top that revealed the burnt material). RCAHMS say it is a wonder how it survives so untouched in this area, so we shouldn't grumble really. From the top I could make out a slight small ditch about the mound but felt it to be a modern development.
So what took my fancy was a set of features at the point where the burn takes a turn (HY43461277), date unknown. Most of the way from Yairsay the Burn of Hatston is lined by drystane walls, no sign of a break apart from the bridge below Yairstay. But here it does intriguing things. About 9m down from a wide turf-covered bridge a slab of stone bridges the water (is it a clapper bridge?), near the top of the walls and inset to their sides. It lays horizontally and I wonder if this is how the slab at Burn of Swannay once lay too. A metre past this the right wall turns at a right angles, straight until the end curved round a little. About 4.5-5m further on it is mirrored, except that this wall goes across the water as another wide turf-covered bridge, though of better construction than the first. Hereabouts the walls are thicker than elsewhere, for opposite where the first wall turn is lies a wall inset about 1.3m long, and this is set half-way back into the wall a scant few courses above the stream. Even though there is a chunk of concrete between the wall-turns the arrangement is definitely original with the drystane walling. On a later visit I found another place, further upstream, where there is a similar 'crossroad' of wall.
Down from the mound, almost at the shore, was Saverock Souterrain (HY43681296, HY41SW 5), that Petrie had down as a broch. And the Hatston Airfield Souterrain (HY43621238, HY41SW 3) wasn't too far away. So obviously this area has always been important.
Look from here in the direction of Finstown and the long arm of land includes the site of the Crossietown Neolithic settlement and recently excavated Ramberry chambered cairn (HY42401363, gone). Though it seems to hold watch over the Bay of Kirkwall there was no broch there (Ingshowe lies further towards Finstown). But unseen around the hill Quanterness did have a roundhouse, so perhaps this explains the lack ?
wideford Posted by wideford
25th May 2004ce
Edited 28th August 2005ce

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