|A word from your hard-working 19th century Orkney correspondent (whom you may feel some kindredship with and sympathy for):
In the winter of 1848 I undertook a survey of these antiquities, wishing to leave a permanent record of their present state and position, while they were yet in tolerable preservation: but, although a labour of love, it was not accomplished without much difficulty, principally owing to the uncertain state of the weather and the distance of the locality from my residence.p97 in 'Account of some of the Celtic Antiquities of Orkney, including the Stones of Stenness, Tumuli, Picts-houses, &c., with Plans' by F W L Thomas.
After a long ride, there was first to lay out the surveying poles, then shoulder my theodolite, and march from station to station through the most insinuatingly melting snow that I ever remember to have felt, often being obliged to leave my instrument and run for a quarter of a mile to gain a little warmth by the exertion.
It was, however, sometimes exceedingly romantic to hear the wild swans trumpeting to each other while standing under the lee of a gigantic stone, till a snow-squall from the north east had passed over; but, could I have attuned my soul to song in such a dreary situation, instead of raving with Macpherson, my strain would certainly have been something in praise "of the bonnie blythe blink o' my ain fireside."
Occasionally there is some fine weather even in this inhospitable climate; but I can only remember the many nights, dark, bleak, and cold, in which I have been urging my easy-going quadruped over that weary road while the snow fell into my eyes upon any attempt being made to look a-head.
At last, however, the survey was finished; with Mr. Robert Heddle, the dimensions and an outline figure of every stone in the Ring of Brogar was taken; and Mr. G. Petrie assisted me in measuring the diameters of the circles, trenches, &c. The General Plan was made by triangulating with staves, and a base measured by a land-chain on the level point of Stenness.
Chapter 13 in: Archaeologia, Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity By the Society of Antiquaries of London (1851).
This can be read online courtesy of Google Books.
Posted by Rhiannon
27th January 2007ce
Edited 27th January 2007ce