|George Petrie notes excavations of a circular arrangement of ten mounds close to Wideford farm, three 'large' and the rest smaller. He excavated three of the latter, about 10-12' across by 3' high, and found in each a short cinerary cist (one NW/SE, a second WNW/ESE). Later he dug another three of the barrows, but only mentions one result, cist-less. It is unlikely that such a seasoned investigator would confuse Wideford with Wideford Hill (the latter then pronounced Whyteford), but coming down the saturated NE slope of the hill to the north end of the reservoir I saw white stones at the edge of a low mound to the right of the track/streambed I came along.
This spring I came for a better look at this, but maybe left it too late in the season as all I found were lumps of stone atop a mound of vegetation. Lower down I had also noted a large 'trench' last year, about man deep and littered with stones including some more the dull colour and shape of ones used as a field boundary[what I term a 'standing stone fence']. I thought perhaps it pertained to the gairsty dyke that gave its name to Yairsay in the plantation by the main road. It is unfortunate that I took no photos last year as it has since been filled in as part of work by the Water Board. To one side of it there was, and still is, a large area scattered with many white stones that are mostly longer than they are broad, perhaps removed from the trench alongside. Though they aren't in straight lines it has the feel of a loose linear array.
One benefit of the removal of the trench is that this time I could see a concentration of stones in and over a grassy mound [George Petrie described one of second trio of Wideford tumuli he looked at as a turf-covered mound of "large lumps of stones jammed together", with a mix of burnt bones and fine clay beneath at the level of the ground about it]. These are of different form to those just upslope, being more stone blocks rather than long slabs. If this were some clearance cairn one would expect that the rest of the area would also comprise of these rather than the observed scatter. And many of the stones look to me to be squared off rather than "au naturel'. The mound measures 8.5 x 4.7 x 0.9m above the surrounding vegetation, with further stones apparently underfoot in places about the perimeter.It lies roughly at HY423121-424121 The long axis aligns uphill, but lacking a compass I cannot positively state that this points to the tomb on the other side of the hill. [The vanished St.Duthac's chapel used stones from the Pickaquoy burnt mound settlement, and the latter when excavated had two building slabs with rock art that must have come themselves from elsewhere - I suspect there may have been a tomb this side of the hill just as we have the Wideford Hill Cairn the other side and Cuween Hill facing that].
Unless you are sure-footed and wearing wellies you approach through the Wideford Hill water treatment works, keeping to the track that goes through the northern end (all else is no-go). Beyond the Water Board fence the new works are the fenced-off area at the end of the fieldwall to the track's right. The covered 'trench' etc. are on the other side of the track about half-way up. Do not be tempted to climb to the hilltop, the way up is either water-logged or non-foot-friendly heath, and it is a lot further and steeper than it looks.
Posted by wideford
29th April 2007ce
Edited 26th May 2007ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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