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

Hillhead Enclosure

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


Go out of town on the South Isles road past the Highland Park distillery and before reaching the Tradespark junction enter the field on the downhill side of the road opposite. Cut diagonally across this to the gap at the corner behind Hillhead (of Scapa) House.

Striking off right downhill on another diagonal takes you to the site of the long-gone well in front of whose vanished place a decorated stone ball was found almost as long ago. You have to wonder what yet remained to mark it out - was it demolished ruins or simply (like Crossiecrown) filled in with rubble ? Could it be that the 'new' well of 20th century vintage does occupy the self-same site hidden from view. Unfortunately this has an airtight seal at the top of the circular concrete 'plug', overlying a symmetric well of drystane walling the same diameter. In the same hollow the hut has been removed to expose the concrete foundation below (hopefully nothing destructive is intended for this place). Connecting this and the well are flags that go under the former hut's foundation. About the modern constructions lie many stones of older times, but are they from here or brought in from elsewhere? One I am struck by is a dark slab with a rectangular section out of one corner that reminds me of a re-usable form of cist. The exposed section of hollow above the modern stuff seems curiously empty (like bared parts of the enclosure), only a few protruding stones with an earthfast boulder at the back of curious colouration.

Looking across the hill with your back to Kirkwall you can see the nearby enclosure, once considered a fort by those who saw it a little better than we. Standing a little above the well hollow provides the best view of the Hillhead site's profile, better detail at least than that of the half below the house. Is one looking at two banks and a ditch or a bank and two ditches, no-one is totally convincing and if any excavation was done it was way back and very slight.

Near the drystane wall you are conscious of a wide flattened section on either side that goes downhill without seeming to break the enclosure otherwise. One assumes that this came about when the original Well Park was divided up, and further that material from the enclosure would have been robbed to form the wall itself. To see the other half of the site you have to go back up beside the wall to the house and down into next field. It appears to be a smaller 'half', and as mentioned before presents a much less detailed appearance. Also there are only a couple of bared areas. Similar to the bank/ditch dichotomy we cannot tell if the relative 'smoothness' represents more of the original form surviving or, conversely, the greater subsequent subjection to the hand of man.

I wonder if the Hillhead of Crantit was a similar site to Hillhead - between that tidgy hollow the old O.S. miscalls a quarry and the distillery there is a curve to the hill that looks suspiciously regular and the earthwork at the ruined steading's uphill side could be where a bank has been cut by the road ?
wideford Posted by wideford
12th May 2006ce
Edited 26th June 2007ce

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