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



Here in Orkney there are/were quite a few of what Gregor Lamb terms finger stones. These were generally thrown by giants. In Eday there was one above Farahouse. Rousay had one where folk would lay a stone in passing. The Finger Steen or Byasteen is, or was, on a cliff near Wasbister shore. On Mainland, in Evie, is one of Cubbie Roo's failed shots on Hoy. Cubbie Roo's Stone in the Dale of Woodwick had several holes caused by his fingers. Also called Cobbie or Cubbie Roo's Stone, it is shown on the 1882 map at HY36712306, between South Kews and the Styes of Aikerness mound (but to their east). In Stenness a huge broken up stone near Breckan /Millquoy was thrown by Hugboy from Hoy. Another put from Hoy again dropped short, landing at Ruff/Gruf Hill in Orphir - the Giant's Stone had the mark of his thumbprint. Over in Firth near main road north of Redland Farm, on the north side of Brae of Muckquoy, a pair of stones thrown from Gairsay to Estaben landed. One was triangular ~6'x2'x9" and the other 4'x4'x2', the with 'fingermarks' being on the latter. In Sanday a stone with the devil's fingermarks is built into Lady parish church.

They didn't always leave their idents behind. A natural boulder called the Giant's Stone, 8' x 6' x 2½', was thrown from the standing stone of Stembister (HY50SW 6 at HY54130239, moved to there from the fast-eroding cliff-edge) in St.Andrew's parish. It landed on the very edge of Copinsay, at the highest point of the cliffs around that island a few yards from brink. Over in Rousay Cubbierow/ Kubbie Row's Stone/ Cubbie Roo's Stone was thrown from Fitty Hill on Westray to Lyra in the region of Frotoft, somewhere above Mt. Pleasant but below Keirfea hill. Which is still a large area to search. On Shapinsay Mor Stein/ Mör Steen (HY51NW 1 at HY52401685), thrown from Mull Head in Deerness, was called the Moow Stane after a giant who left his imprint.

On holier ground, down at the end of South Ronaldsay there is the Ladykirk Stone, first ascribed to a monster turned to stone for saving an anonymous Gallus 'priest' after a shipwreck. Only sometime before 1690 did it gain the name St.Magnus Boat, from a tale originally told of a standing stone (in the present-day only a pile of rubble) on the Scottish mainland called Sten Hone. The Ladykirk Stone's two 10" long 1" deep depressions are likelier feet than anything boat related. In 1701 the stone was either six foot by four or four by two, now this oval beach 'pebble' is 3'8" long by 2'10" long - so are we missing umnntioned salient detail since lost ? The worthy is said to have built the St.Mary church on an old temple - not the present kirk but a grassy mound on the banks of the now drained Loch of Burwick.

Associated with the Knights of Stove legend is the King's Stone in Sandwick. 3' 6" x 2' 3" it is said to have gained its name from what were described as carvings representing the word king. Originally in the meadows of Stove this was later incorporated into the foundation of a water mill which was then built into the corner of barn in same place. Alas, this is now harled over. In "Orcadiana" Gregor Lamb puts a case for the Faal Stane o'How being another king's stone. In Orkney the local legends chiefs were called kings e.g. the king of the Brough Borwick warred with the righ of Verran, Voyatown.
In Kirkwall there was formerly a White Stone opposite the pulpit in St.Magnus Cathedral where folk went to repent. If not some prehistoric artefact it must surely have been connected with the saint's cult in some way.
wideford Posted by wideford
9th October 2006ce

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