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


Artificial Mound


Coming into Deerness, at the beginning of the last leg of the A960 before it becomes the B9050, two minor roads at right angles head for the coast, one to the Newark slipway and the other marked as coastal path and geo (also called a goe in Orkney, a deep gap in the cliffs resulting from a cave's collapse) - ?Muckle Castle. Between the two endpoints was a non-burnt mound WSW of Mussaquoy and beyond the coastal path. Go down the slipway road and turn right and walk a little way to a strangely elongated field containing the site. Even from a distance you could tell it had been excavated, end on looking not unlike a settee in outline if you ignore the grass. The O.S. map of 1882 only shows a narrow stretch of rough land. And I wonder if we now only see part of the rim of what was a much larger structure a long time ago - close by is a feature called Peerie Castle, were they once one?

The entrance to the field was an extraordinarily taut 'Orkney gate', thus requiring a push from distance leaning slightly as it could well be risky to attempt from close and straight on. This site is a narrow oval mound with a long rectangular pit taken from the (NNW?) side. Unfortunately a low battery stuck my camera's zoom on telephoto. Though there were two edge-set slabs at the front of the mound I can see only one, at the northern end. But this may be owing to the time of year. However I see a long stone prostrate beside it. Scraping away the thin grass covering reveals your usual standing stone shape of a few feet long, which is brown in colour like you would see in an old house (there is some in the exposed material too). There are red stones in the vertical section behind this and red fragments in a smaller exposed section at the southern end of the seaward side (ESE?), however this seems to have originally been structural and is in no way burnt. Perhaps this fell in from above when this place was 'quarried'. However the stones over this mound are a heterogenous lot anyway, differing in size and shape and colour, and including ones similar to the prostrate stone.

To me it looks as if the site could well have been adapted from its original form/purpose even before the quarrying. The earthfast stone pair have been seen as perhaps part of a cist, but equally well fit the original burnt mound theory as resembling the 'tanks' of a site such as Hawell. I don't get a feeling either way and distrust both interpretations here. It is a very curious place, nothing adds up, the individual parts don't make a recognisable whole.
wideford Posted by wideford
4th July 2006ce
Edited 19th June 2007ce

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