|On the Black Hill of Warbuster downhill of the Ring of Bookan, seperated by a hill-dyke and (formerly) the old road to Sandwick and Birsay (which also passed through the lower third of the Wasbister disc barrow). This is the mound excavated by Thomas, as shown by a comparison of his report with that of the first grave in the "John O' Groat's Journal". In 1848 or earlier a trench dug by Dr.Wall of Skaill from the SW to the centre of this 71½ by 10' tumulus found nothing. And on July 30th 1849 Thomas first trench of 3 or 4' across that came from the south was similarly fruitless, even when the central pit was dug out to 6' or 7' diameter. The barrow presented a very different appearance then, with "but little earth in comparison with the many large angular pieces of stone" (now it looks a partly turf-covered mound of earth with some loose stones in exposed areas and a few earthfast stones barely peeking up from the top). It was built up with topsoil from the moors about. On the second day digging through several large stones from the SE and lifting an outsize flagstone lid revealed a "parallelogram, regularly built on stone" 26x27x18" containing a skeleton. The grave lay W/E and came from 4' above the natural, 10' from the centre, with the skeleton lying diagonally and head facing west. Later in the year Thomas was called back again to aid the "Woodlark"in its explorations. Two more crouched inhumations were found in cists, one in a trench from the N to the centre and another in a cut on the east side. Though roughly the same distance from the centre as the first they were much cruder burials and came from much further up within the mound, 6-7' above the natural, only about a foot below the mound top. A fourth burial was expected to be somewhere on the W, but all the debris from their excavations having been dumped there they consequently didn't have enough time left to look for it.
Posted by wideford
24th August 2006ce