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

wideford’s TMA Blog

Post to the TMA Blog


Back up on the road as you leave Orphir village behind there is a house called Cairnton on the left that doesn't appear on the 1882 map, though as with other places that does not mean the placename itself did not exist then. Good construction, decent grounds, surrounded by several ages of wall. My interest is piqued by the high western wall, that facing Scorradale. There is a stone hut inside the grounds with its back wall there. Strange thing is that the wall surrounding the grounds incorporates this but the hut wall is its own thing and so must have come before. House>hut>wall or hut>house is the sticking point in my interpretation despite that all fits so neatly now. As I am typing this up I am of a sudden reminded of the hut in the Tankerness House Garden's wall in Tankerness Lane, lately demolished.

By the LH side of the Scorradale junction is the enclosed steep-ended gar that looks to have been the ornament of a big hoose before it became overgrown. Going up the hill at the lower side of the way in a short erect stone ends flush a remaining section of drystane wall. And at right-angles a matter of inches away is a less rounded stone of similar dimensions sitting solitary. Apparently.
At the top of the hill is a popular viewpoint, with rough paths meandering aimlessly nowadays either side of the roadway. Going over the brow my attention has often been taken by a mound with garden plants sitting off the road in a hollow, like the remains of a dwelling on its own tump. This time I climbed of the roadway, after some yards up over a definite bank carefully into the depression. Alas after crawling over the man-height mound there were still no distinguishing features, so this would appear to be connected with the 1:25,000's disused quarry hereabouts, presumably its dump.
Furtherdown the hillside is an earthwork (HY316056) between Crumbrecks and the Scorradale road that looks more promising. Big lowish mound not far from the road ,with banks surrounding a large rectangular-looking interior, several bumps and some stone exposed. Can't find an easy way in. Back home this appears to be of 'modern' origin, another quarry shown on the 1882 map. Sigh.

Next up is the electricity sub-station junction. Pausing to look at the bridge next to it on the downhill side at the streamside edge of the field (HY31540580) I saw one rainy day a very exposed 'straining stone', flat edge aligned with the bank and feet practically dabbling in the water. The area of the stone visible from the road is 1.6m by 0.35-0.4m, with half-a-metre of this being below field level. There is a piece of packing the full width of the field side of it. Taking into account the concrete and wire about it it is difficult to understand how the stone stays vertical rather than being dragged fieldward, unless there be much lower packing hidden on the ditch side, taking its height down to the ditch bottom to 1.95m. It doesn't form the end of a drystane wall even though there is perhaps one overgrown under the roadside field boundary. I can see no markings present.
I saw a fallen brown stone that could mean this is the remains of a 'standing stone fence'.
The other presently standing stone (HY31510589) is near to the Glenrae farmroad junction. It is smaller than the other at 0.9m x 0.3m but resembles it in the only apparent packing slab being on the fieldward side. It is a possible candidate for the Giant's Thumb despite being down in Scorra Dale rather than actually up on Gruf/Ruff Hill. On the downhill side there is a notable concavity along the edge, as well as a few lesser curves on the uphill side, the latter ?natural flaking. When I fell back the right distance and held up my hand so that my thumb was placed appropriately the palm base of my fingers fell naturally at the other edge.
On the 1:25,000 there are two hills above Glenrae, namely Croy Hill then Gruf Hill. It is Johnston's calling the latter Ruff Hill that gives me room to think the Giant's Thumb did not lay where his map shows it. From the Scorradale road I cannot tell which of these hills is on the horizon. This hillside is strewn with small boulders that probably relate scorra to scouring. On my last visit there were large white blotches visible way up near the ridge. My thoughts ran to giant sheep or an unusual breed of kie. Zooming in showd the to be instead much larger boulders sticking out the hillside. The map shows some kind of track going along the SE side of the hills, but it looks like a bit much of a yomp even so. If only I had a better fix on the giant's stone (a failed throw at Hoy from Rousay), presuming my identification only simulacrum, it would surely lie here as lure in lieu.

Coming back down into Orphir main there is a magnificent vista spread out before you, with Kongarsknowe highly visible. I could see that as I neared the junction the hills over the Flow would frame it - walking the road below the Hill of Midland the top of it is often on a level with the hilltops across the water. Strangely, soon after you leave the hill base the knowe disappears from view - you can't see the mound from anywhere near Orphir village, only from some some places well down the road to Gyre does the mound show itself again. Imagine my amazement on finding that from the Scorradale junction itself there is the effect of it being part of a meniscus, the illusion being that Kongarsknowe is in a declivity whilst the top of the mound is dead level with the top of the hills across the water. Like the depiction of the eye as an eyeball within a lens. I'm not sure if this is a deliberate placement and my one photo failed to do it justice as perceived.

wideford Posted by wideford
25th November 2005ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment