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


Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


Climbed all the way to the top of Wideford Hill and followed a path down in the direction of the reservoir. Path became a narrow dried up burn then living burn criss-crossing 'path'. Rather spongy, in places very springy. Then coming near the bright wall above Yairsay which is the east side of the sharp triangle of the field-top above the old tunship I spotted a likely looking cairn shape amidst the heather. A little further yomping showed it to be earth with a few middling stones showing. When I turned back the way I saw several more such mounds the other side of the burn/track and then took in a few more about me. Despite my previous misgivings this has to be the circle of cairns amongst whom Petrie dug, too much for a coincidence. Snapped two in one shot. Naturally the camera then gave up.

Despite being practically drystane the bright wall is surely fairly modern. Walking alongside it there are two 'ruts' in parallel, a path and a shallow burn. Then I noticed a broad deep trench the other side of me. I figured it for an exposed 'drain' to feed the reservoir. Next, though, on its far side there was a whole rue of large white stones as if something had been excavated there (I briefly thought of a 'standing stone fence', but way too many for that). In the bottom of the trench I then saw a few
prostrate 'standing stones' dull in colour. Is this more of Petrie's doing, a linear spoil heap, or something arising from the construction of the reservoir - perhaps a little of both ? Man, nature, mix ? Approaching the water board's boundary fence the trench cornered away. I did not follow it further - if it were heading for the reservoir it was going a funny way about it.

Siting the cairns here means they overlook settlement this way (Pickaquoy, Grainshore ?) in like manner to Quanterness and old man Wideford Hill, a lack that has been a puzzle before now.

The 'trench' at about HY423121 has now been filled in as a result of works outwith the reservoir fence. So, no images of the trench. On the other hand the operations rendered more obvious the grass-covered mound, some of whose stone blocks appear squared off. Taken by itself it might simply be a clearance cairn, perhaps in connection with the possible gairsty dyke, but there are further arrays of big stones ahead that appear only as scatter. The visible portion of this cairn measures 8.5m by 4.8m by 0.9m, with the long axis going uphill, in the direction of the Wideford Hill tomb over the other side of the hill.
wideford Posted by wideford
24th June 2006ce
Edited 26th June 2007ce

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