|The Orkney Statistical Account records for 1795 states merely that a castle could be seen on the West side of Skaill. The Castle of Snusgar appears as presently identified on a map of 1882. Alternatively local tradition places The Castle near Lenahowe, where that map shows the field near Linnahowe only as rough ground. The name Snusgar is no guide, what used to be 'field/enclosure of the projecting cliff' is now the whole area hereabouts.
Last year's excavation of the Castle of Snusgar site found plenty of evidence of metal-working but the only structure found is not firmly identified as evidence for habitation. This year they looked at the SE slope and turned up well defined stratigraphy of densely-packed stone layers (possibly from structures) between sand depositions, and evidence of kelp processing in more recent times (it is presently thought that the whole mound overlies much earlier archaeology). However investigations simultaneously at a mound across the track to Midstove have turned at least one decent habitation. As a Viking silver hoard came from the area between these mounds something of note could well still turn up more certainly pre-dating the late Viking/ early mediaeval period.
Tradition placed an old structure called The Castle near Lenahowe where now lies an extensive mound with no apparent pattern to the stone spread. A rectangular silage pit dug through one end uncovered no evidence of walls amongst the stones, the farmer reporting only ashes and old bones. At this end it is significantly higher. Unfortunately this has probably been built up by stones from the quarrying plus much later materials from elsewhere. Of course if the tradition were founded on fact this could simply have been a midden area.
On the other hand could the Knowe of Verron have been the 1795 castle, as it still isn't certainly a broch and has stones about the surface even now. Alongside the eastern side of the mound a line of earthfast boulders away goes down to the cliffs and looks like part of an enclosure boundary. Between the church road and Verron there are all the signs of a previous wall in front of the present one. But at the primitive bridge the size of the stones in the earth are two to three times the usual size. And in one area of this coastal stretch is an interesting stone spread.
My last candidate isn't on the archaelogical or topographical 'map'. A loop of road off the B9056 cuts off a piece of land opposite the Skaill Church. This hillside mound, for so it would seem to be, is a couple of metres high and is almost encircled by 'standing' stones. It sticks out like a sore thumb in its isolation and seems underused considering. Was this the original Snusgar ?
Posted by wideford
10th August 2005ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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