|Walking along the Berstane Road I stopped by the end of the Seatter footpath. Across at the Head of Holland I now saw North Taing Cairn full on, just to the left of the cathedral quarry but viewed from about the same distance as yesterday. Another site crying out for investigation. Behind me is a triangular section of land that arouses my interest too. The main Berstane Road then turns right. At the first field junction on the right is a lone standing stone. Then nothing much till you turn right to go to 'Inganess beach'.
Down to the Sand of Wideford. Took a look at my Tower Hill 'tumuli'. Actually they total four in number, but Petrie may have meant that not all were explored or else some appeared natural. I suppose they could still be relict sand dunes, though I really hae my doots. Down at the beach I saw three red-breasted mergansers in the bay being pestered by gulls.
Despite the horrid weather I decided to try again to find the Essonquoy Mound now that I had the map better fixed in my mind. The rain actually helped, making a slab stand out darkly from the vegetation covering it. And a few pale slabs elsewhere. Near the fence with the deep ruts of a farm track passing in front of it. To my mind not quite where the dot places it. The mound appears much disturbed and along an edge is the remains of a wall built from big blocks of conglomerate rather than the usual breezeblock.
From here I could see North Taing Cairn still, though much further away now. Now appearing much further to the left of the quarry. Only a little further along it disappeared from sight. By contrast, apart from a few minutes here and there, the red sandstone quarry is visible almost everywhere. It is like a second Hoy. I find it difficult to believe there was never anything of significance on it, like Edinburgh without the castle. But quarrying is just too good there.
As I walked beside the Sand of Essonquoy I saw the mergansers again. And more besides. In recent years it has been possible to see as many as four or five of a family near Kirkwall harbour, but in the bay here I managed to count sixteen. And there could have been more than that. A massing magnificence.
Reaching the 'slip' where the road through the airport turns I looked across at the two stones that end my line of standing stones. From the road as it goes uphill you can see all except the shorter stones. The first field ditch along the road's LH edge shows nothing. It is the second one (HY49650871 to 49640871) that has a line of mostly buried standing stones/ slabs. It ends where a proper stone lies flat in the grass. This feels like a trivia (a meeting of three ways). There is a large irregularly shaped angular boulder a short distance along the field edge that goes to my left, possibly another along from it. With my binoculars I see standing stones further along, but too many fenceposts and pillars at a congested part of the field system for me to 'get a handle on them'. Needs to be dry weather to pursue further, as I feel I should.
Looking up to my right I see a standing stone to the right of the house (The Mount atop the lane) . It is the long thin shape of a steak-knife blade 1.5x0.3x0.1m. Further up on the left is a utility-knife shaped standing stone HY49880875 on the field edge. It is 1.4x0.5m. This stone is on a line with the barbwire field fence on the opposite side of the road, with the steaknife stone on that field's edge opposite two lower fields' junction and against the burn HY49830866. In this field, of which The Mount forms a corner, in 1990 was found a small collection of Mesolithic flints called Slap o'Valdigar HY499086.
At the LH side of the Tankerness road junction here a pillar HY50010871 is embedded in a big lump of concrete. There's a rough stone setting on the downhill side which I don't think is old, though this could be the result of gross disturbance.
If you turn left here you come to the dump at the bottom of the hill. There's a possible standing stone here. This quarry is the site of the Howies of Bossack. They were also known, like several other sites in Orkney, as The Five Hillocks. It is a pity that they were removed, as their description as clay mounds raises questions we cannot now answer.
Posted by wideford
27th September 2004ce
Edited 6th October 2004ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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