|On the way out of Kirkwall along the road to Orphir where the houses on the right end there used to be a boundary stone shown on the O.S. It could be one of the stones used as gateposts for the downhill side field but they don't feel right, eitherr of them. When the riding of the boundary is done part of it is along the St.Olaf's cemetery road. Before you reach the cemetery there is a tall erect stone beside the LH side of the road, and right after the cemetery there is another on the opposite side. Both pre-date the road/track [both cemetery and Orquil Farm are modern interlopers]. No vehicles are allowed past the cemetery itself but the track carries on beyond Orquil Farm. The riding continues along here and then turns up to go through Kelton before reaching the old main road. As you come up to the farm there is a ?set of stones that my fancy takes for a markstone and two keepers.
Back to to the 'end' of Kirkwall. Corse Farm sits above the field, don't be fooled if you come across references to the Bu of Corse as I have found out that the land only acquired this name late on. I have a hunch that the cross/corse was abouthands of where Little Corse Cottage is now, beside the old main road. Perhaps its loss is connected with the [supposedly] re-deposited bones found in a cist at Corse in 1938. The first O.S. shows a well or wellspring in the field. I'm not sure where it was but I take it as significant that a short track is shown leading to it. Where housing continues on the left was formerly South Foreland, so presumably there was a matching North Foreland on the uphill side. The next field along is the site of the Crantit Tomb, visible as a circular cropmark thanks to the farmer. A large flagstone covers the top so I mistook it for a well for ages ! Unfortunately the depth is man-height so I left it alone. Beverley was surprised when I told her that it still survived after her excavations, so a visit is surely a two person job if you are a completist.
I assume the tomb is named for the mansion house opposite. There must be something in the soil here as in successive years there has been a field full of violets roadside either side of the track connecting Old and New Scapa Roads here. Going down the farmtrack there is a low mound running beneath the wall at the southern end of the first field on your left that I take to be the remains of Crantit Farm [even though reported as having been 100 yards south of Crantit House it is near enough to be the tell]. The present Crantit farm/dairy, Crantit Cottages, is named on earlier maps as Offices [capital p], meaning housing for the farmworkers - one of my brothers contrarily insisted this referred to clerical buildings, however there is nothing to support this. Where the track meets New Scapa Road there is a large solitary erect stone. No sign of it ever having been a gatepost. A few yards before it what seems like a broad line [boundary dike, old shoreline even] leaves roadside at an angle until it meets the road. The reeds in this field often look to me to have a rather regular arrangement, as if marking some old square structure or summat. All of this is part of the region referred to as the "parks and meadow of Scapa". Archaeologically the hillside above the road holds Hillhead of Crantit (near the distillery and perhaps once on both sides of the road), an old ?marching ground (opposite Karlie) called Muster quoy [not my era but recent photos show rectangular cropmarks], Well Park (find site for a macehead) and Hillhead [of Scapa] (more maceheads, though one is referenced to Hillhead of Crantit). This last has been variously called a fort [by early antiquarians] and an enclosure [by the Ordnance Survey] according to what number of banks and ditches have been noted. Banks erode and ditches fill in, so both could have been right in their times, but from a distance the clearest feature is a circular bank. To my mind the heavily contoured hillside presents the same appearance as the Hill of Heddle where it faces Binscarth, so I wonder if this was the location of a group of 14 barrows examined by Petrie "near Kirkwall", perhaps purposely water wound like the cremation mounds of Lingadee. Before reaching New Scapa Road there is now a path for people on foot, on horseback or bicycling, running parallel with it.
Following it to Scapa there are features on the left bearing evidence to the period of Agricultural Improvements, namely drainage ditches running perpendicular to the track and going to the road. Before reaching the Burn of Crantit on the right there is another large erect stone, also unmarked by any fieldgate use. This one's rather narrow in face and looks to have been knocked out of its alignment. A line through the two ]HY44660940 to HY44430937] looks to carry on straight through to the broch [HY43640936] that once stood at Tofts Farm in Warbuster field. Chance obviously. Cross over the new wooden bridge and you come to the place where the track turns sharp left to rejoin the road. Looking diagonally across the turn is the field that CANMAP places the O.S. observation of the Crantit souterrain. But all that I have found there is a stone socket along the line of fence running up to the house to the north, presumably for a large wooden post as it is too peedie for even a short cist. If you stand on the grass at this corner be careful not to fall over the remains of a large square stone socket. The field below the house and right of the fenceline hold my original suspect for the earthhouse. This structure isn't far away from a well/spring was mapped so could relate to that, it resembles a miniature sauna with low stone bench and does have a channel running towards town as described. Of course the source material gives no indication that anyone then believed the site to be an erdhouse, simply the ruin of an old house with an sooty lum one end and a tunnel a young lassie went down. Since the foot path allowed access I investigated another possible candidate in a long straight line of drystane walls supporting flags, the top exposed in places, coming out to the burn at a point opposite this corner (where some cement has been applied in more recent times). Certainly it is on a very different alignment to the other drains. However work has been going on to push the Scapa shore back since at least Viking times so that is inconclusive. My reason for not believing this to be designed as a drain is that the ground above it increases in depth as it approaches the barn. It is big enough even for an adult to crouch down, but naturally enough is rarely dry - last time I went the waters had risen nearly to the roof. From here the original burn zig zags away, and on one of these short lengths there used to be the legend "Stepping Stones" more usually associated in Orkney with loch islands and brochs.
Between the coastguard station ans Scapa pier the scenery is quite new as in the first decade of the 20th century a terrible storm caused landslides that include several stretches of cliff of a hundred yards. Perhaps these took with them the site of the barrow "near the shore of Scapa" [*1] ?? Roadside past the coastguard station the other way, where the houses are is a big depression with what looks like a bridge. I assume that this is where work finally stopped on pushing back the sea. This finished at the end of the 19th century having started at least as far back as the Vikings. Though we know that the Peerie Sea once extended almost as far back as Wellington Street there appears to be nothing on where Scapa Bay once came to (though a 1986 item refers to a "dark loch" below Hillhead in the Mesolithic) - did another oyce once reach back to Crantit ?
On to the coastal path, basically unmanicured so watch your step. Between the initial steps and the fieldwall there was a well/spring. Where the lower part of the Scapa Distillery is the burn had two branches [I think the other now underground] there was a mill (Milne of Sealpay) between the two. On the other side is where the Lingro broch settlement once stood and it is difficult to see how those on the farm would have noticed visitors to it. The broch is destroyed in as much as the large stones are gone, though a few years ago ploughing turned up areas of small stones that give one hope something yet remains [especially if this were a brownfield site like Howe]. When Petrie excavated the Broch of Lingro he also found a tomb south of the house [*2] and the only likely spot to my mind is a quarry-like feature hacked back into the hillside. Could it have been the lingro perhaps. A Scandinavian book on Orcadian monuments believed the broch to have been later occupied by the Vikings as Knarston, but if Barbara Crawford is correct that the name, here as elsewhere, refers to the knarrer (a large Scandinavian ship) this seems unlikely. The Knarston tunship extended from this burn to the nest. We know of two Knarstons surviving to recent times, Upper Knarston a few chains NW of Lingro and Lower Knarston 10-12 cains west of it. Given that the Goosiepow 'goose-pond' of Knarston was only a short distance W of Lingro's barn could Lingro have been the original Knarston itself. Lingro could well have been the name of the mound or a lost coastal feature whose name was appropriated methinks. The track from Lingro leads to what resembles a shallow ravine, looking like some humungous grassy slipway going down to the sea (a great chunk out of one side marks a well). It comes to the Burn of Cottland and the rather small sheltered bay of Red Craig. I know its a bit New Age of me to hazard this, but when I tried to find a meaning for one of the former farms in the area the nearest that I could come was the name of a type of small Norwegian boat !
Hereabouts the coastal path ends really - though I did manage the clifftop from here to the next inlet once at one stage I was pulling myself along a three foot gap with only the shore below my feet, using a very loose fencepost. So don't do it. When I went along the cliff I saw what looked to me like a long low pier of reddish appearance. So I had thought this to be a possible "Dane's pier" [much later I found the pier between Mid Taing and the Reef of Dyke-end on the 1:25,000 Pathfinder, it not appearing on the present Explorer map]. Subsequent visits by way of the shore have rendered this less likely now I've seen a pic of the real thing. Can be slightly tricky to approach close. Well-built, of large regular and semi-regular stones, it starts off low by the cliff, gains in height, turns at a slight angle about two-thirds along and ends up about six feet high at the seaward end. There is a large rusty iron chain at the inward end but that could have been inserted later. It is certainly well placed to shelter the sandy shore at Red Craig too. In the ciff face there is a small wood and corrugated iron hut a little above the shore (a small bore chimney pokes its top few inches through the grass above.. Once I read a record referring this to the fishing or something like that. I doesn't show on Pastmap, perhaps closer inspection made it appear too modern. Close up it's obvious that the present construction replaces an earlier stone structure. Some metres to the right a wall is revealed in the cliff, probably the end of a drystone wall. This looks to continue on to the tin hut behind a veil of falling turf.
I don't think you could walk the shore to the next inlet whatever the tide, especially now the seaweed is as rampant as the grass above. Here is Horse Rock, one of several in Orkney (there is another somewhere in the next-door parish of Orphir). This is an uptilted plane of strata meant to resemble a rearing horse. It comes as no surprise that this location is Hesti Geo therefore, down which the well-vegetated Burn of Bendigo comes [goe=geo]. There is a cavity about a man's height set back into the cliff face a few feet down which a patina streams. Ruling out a hoard of man-made material in the clifftop leaves us with a deposit of copper ore, probably the remnant of ancient mining. Above the shore there are the remains of one/two boat nausts beside the burn. Going upstream you walk an exceedingly narrow track winding through waist high shrubbery before coming to a farmtrack that I usually find several inches deep in water. Then you reach the houses. These include the classy Foveran Restaurant - the burn is also called the Burn of Foraa. Just above the last of the house on your right one of the two Foveran cists was found near the field edge. Where the track reaches the main road there's what looks like an old quarry, not as big as Chinglebraes or Walliwall but bigger than most sites labelled quarry in Orkney. Except its not called a quarry. So it is a big squarish hole in the ground covered by thick vegatation and having the burn run through it.
Going back towards Kirkwall in the next field after Grassethowe at certain times of year I can make out a low ridge going uphill. There looks to be a rectangular depression on this slope. Could it be Blackhill. This is reported as being above Chinglebraes. The house of Chinglebraes was an early pub. The present owner is building a lovely drystane feature, pleasing to behold - even though not in the Orkney tradition it puts most modern 'traditional' walling to shame. The farm road to Lingro lies opposite. Last time the downhill field there was ploughed I saw a large area of dark material close by the farmroad. The road to Chinglebraes plant goes on to Peedie Orquil, which was the original Orquil steading. And the flat meadow below was the Ba' Green of Orquil. From here a track continues on and the down to the modern Orquil Farm. There used to be a sawmill here. Above the farm is the 1971 site of a two-storey mound compared to Taversoe Tuick, re-buried without excavating. Now down as a souterrain I find nothing published to back this. Let's compromise and call it a gallery grave. Yet further up the hill is the end of a massive moraine [the deep cut in this end is now filled in] in which were several burial places - beyond its upper end is Braehead, once Newbigging (there is another Newbigging in the parish with its own associated cist).
Looking down towards the distillery the long mound at/of Nevada Cott which must once have dominated this natural amphitheatre. There is what looks to be the remains of a low mound at the uphill end, maybe something at the other. Between it and the cottage is a depression in which there are the remains of a delapidated well. The other side of the road is where the millpond used to be, almost the whole area. The modern road has been unstraightened here, it used to go in front of the houses down to what is now the distillery road and then follow that left. Follow the modern road and you come to a big ole stretch of green where it curves round. The old road followed the fieldwall into this and around. You get fine orchids here. This is Tofts Farm. The broch came from where there is a building by the fieldwall [though there just may be an inconsistency].
Coming back to Crantit, the field above that containing the tomb is shown on CANMAP as having one of the Newbigging sites near the seperating wall. As the Corse cist [*3] does not have an NMRS this is my scenario ; someone comes along looking for this particular site, asks about it locally without mentioning Newbigging and is shown where the Corse cist was and puts that down as the correct location for what he had in mind
*1 - Scapa barrow, 53' diameter 5½' high, 1855 near to the shore :
53' diameter 5½' high. Primary internment a roughly E/W aligned centrally placed flagstone double cist, covering stone level with o.g.s. A few sandstone lumps in N cist ; S kist held slumped crouched inhumation, coverstone 6'5" by 3'7" and 3½" thick. Probable secondary internments in uppper part of barrow were i) burnt bones and ashes embedded in clay just below surface opposite SE corner of S cist, ii) burnt bones and ashes slightly below surface at other end of barrow, resting on a flat stone.
*2 - Lingrow tomb, 1870 south of house [possibly a souterrain instead] :
Large mound re-excavated. Undressed stone pillars supporting roof of heavy flagstones. Only finds were fragments of unburnt animal bone, some burnt bones and a single human tooth.
*3 - Corse cist, 1938 Corse farm :
Adult skeleton occupying whole of stone cist approximately 2'8" by 15".
Posted by wideford
20th January 2009ce
Edited 30th January 2009ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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