|Good job I went this way before I get around to sending photos to NMRS as I find I have the NGRs for the Brymer soilmarks. The red one remains highly visible still. When I went today I realised that there were two derelict structures and not just the one that stands out in my memores. The one furthest gone is the one nearest to the Mine Howe turnoff and the one with the standing stone, the other is the one next to the soilmark field. So often I find myself adapting maps into a notebook for greater ease of location but neglect to take similar care in recording details of the area as I find it (I would add "where necessary" but ...define). Then I come back home and find that missing an element in the scene means I'm lost in CANMAP then. At least I more often than not have the luxury of a return visit to put things right !
The structure with the standing stone stands on a slight curved bank. This probably is one of those features that O.S. infuriates me by labelling "drains". Which you know darn well are natural features most of the time, the attempt to use a region-neutral word is not much use to us on the ground in this respect. There are several occupying the field that ends opposite the Mine Howe turnoff, most in three lines like a curvy arrow toward that corner. There is a bridge that goes under the road. On this side of the road you would expect either a wide stream that went through the twin passages or one dividing into two streams to pass onward. Only here for some reason on this side the waters adopt an X before crossing. Natural but weird. I have seen places where there has been a tri via just before a bridge but this is most intriguing !
For some reason I thought that the archaeologists would be back at Mine Howe this year. I was mistaken, so I won't find out what is under the second plastic sheet. There's just the one guy keeping it and the site display hut open for people.
Went down towards the shore reaching out to stones on the way. Over at the Breck Spine field I leant over to the roadside 'doublet' (defined by me as middling size stone with shorter stone in close parallel, like a few inches away and not packing. There is another kind that has two stones of similar size at right-angles but those could be remains of some other arrangement - see Hawell pic) and when I looked up to the spine there was an obvious discontinuity in the present wall at the bend. Very striking from my new viewpoint was the 'gatepost' pair because one is to the front of the wall and the other to the back of it..
Passing the Hawell road the burnt mound looked a little distressed. Going down from the Muckle Crofty stones I saw below on that same left side more standing stones in the fences that go in a line to the farm of Messigate. Most obvious, drawing my interest, was a gate-ing pair (P.S. or, as it now seems, perhaps a standing stone and a modern metal fence !). A few minutes later (if that) I saw another such in the fences going away to my right but this is a modern illusion.
Down at the shore another "standing stone fence" up on the field edge followed me in my travels along the beach to Tankerness proper. Not as complete or as impressive as the one around the Yesnaby shoreline unfortunately. Very low tide meant no seals but much exposure of features seaward such as stone boundaries. On days like today ou just know that in prehistoric times you could have walked from The Brig (a black stone outcrop) right over to the spit of land past Tankerness Mill. Indeed a month or two back I did walk almost dryshod from Mill Sand to that spit, the stream running through the mill no problemo !
By The Brig a "standing stone fence" lay across my way (HY51940731). First time I did not see all the stones. Two stones are on the field edge, the one nearest the edge sicking only a foot above the ground and so obscured by grass.One of those down on the shore is a pointed curve literally only inches above the sands. All of which confirms the alignments' antiquity. The first three and the last had perforations. But whilst the big field edge stone had a barbwire going through its hole the one furthest away, with two vertical holes not aligned, was only knee-height (this has a short stone at right-angles in front of it). This fence felt ancient still, the shore stones solidly buried by the literal sands of time. When I went up to the field edge I saw that I was at the Loch of Messigate, with derelict farm bulidings that I take to be Newbigging to its left.
The loch (which like most of our lochs would be deemed a lochan on the Scottish mainland) has a line of stones going across it barely above water (HY51890733) so that surely the wall is rather more than the usual two centuries. Back on CANMAP I notice the field boundary is shown either side of the water but not this continuation of the wall strangely.
Down on the shore again, not many yards further on so still below loch level, I come across my next feature (HY519074). Parallel to the field edge (I guess) is a sandstone slab 0.5m high and 0.8m long, and midway along its lower edge is a square cut 0.3m long and about six inches deep. The other side of this a smaller sandstone slab lies across its left edge. Beyond the front of the notched slab what looks to be a narrow lined channel level about with the shore heads off to The Brig. A square-cut drain ??
When you look at The Brig there appears to be an intermittent line/s of stone going across. a strange place to build anything surely.Though mostly a natural formation of big black boulders I assume this is how the outcrop gained its name. But there appears to be a 'standing stone fence' opposite the Loch of Messigate section.
With the very low tide my Mill Sands alignment is completely out of the water (two days later the shore stones were fully submerged at high tide). If I'd only had my waterproof shoes on I would have essayed the two black stones to take their measure. A boat was attached to them with a boatman working the far side of it.
Posted by wideford
3rd June 2004ce
Edited 14th July 2004ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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