|Regarding the Ness of Brodgar complex the present feeling is still that this seperates a landscape of the dead featuring the Ring of Brodgar from a land of the living featuring the Standing Stones of Stenness. However on the north side of the Brodgar bridge is a large mound that is now believed to be a chambered tomb. In modern times this first appears as Kokna-Cumming, described as a burnt mound. Probably not long after this mention the location was lost. Then an unrecorded excavation found an arrangement of circular walls, leading to its interpretation as a broch (there was another broch [Big Howe ,now only a rise in a field] near the Stones of Stenness). However when geophysics recently revealed evidence of tiering the resemblance to sites such as the Wideford Hill cairn led to the re-think. Until this season the most talked about feature of the Ness of Brodgar complex was still the extremely wide 'Great Wall' that ran across the ness from loch to loch at the site's northern end. Now attention has shifted to the 'cathedral', probably the largest Neolithic building yet found in Europe (or at least the UK), stretching across a large area of the site and disappearing under the present Lochview buildings. This has features resembling Maes Howe, to which it is aligned. This
year they did a small trial excavation on the other side of Lochview and found the 'lesser wall of Brodgar'. This isn't quite as wide as the 'Great Wall' but stands at least 1.4m high on the southern face - it has only been dug into a little, and only on that side, so could go down much further. This is at right angles to the Brodgar standing stone pair that sit in the Lochview garden, and if it cuts across the ness in similar fashion to the 'Great Wall' looks likely to bisect the area between them [I still suspect something of the gatepost pair on a rise at the Brodgar farm itself, even if they are only replacements or show where something could damage the plough]. The feeling is that this marks the southern edge of the Ness of Brodgar complex. If Kokna-Cumming is a tomb what is its relationship to the complex [with The Howe in mind are we sure that Big Howe was only a greenfield broch?[ and what would it mean to the proponents of a living/dead dichotomy for the main Stenness monuments ? Or could it be that the mound is not a tomb either but yet anothe addition to the Ness of Brodgar menagerie ?
The antiquarians recorded quaint names for the main Brodgar monuments [Broidgar in an early newspaper account]. These have been dismissed as fanciful inventions but could be Anglicisations or translations of proper Orcadian names, as has happened
with the likes of Mine Howe and Towerhill. The Standing Stones of Stenness was the Circle of the Moon. The large hearth is formed by four stones of standing stone dimensions and runs N/S E/W but as presently setup the 'altar'/'dolmen' stone setting is at a slight angle. Perhaps that is because as is hypothesised the latter had been used to frame Maes Howe. The Watch Stone, along with a large stub found during roadmaking, is thought to be perhaps part of the SE arc of another circle [call it the Watch Circle]. I haven't heard of any further stones being located by underwater survey and so assume this to have been even more incomplete than the Stones of Stenness [the current position on that circle] or been extensively robbed for a later site. The Comet Stone is a stone arrangement but always referred to as a standing stone because the original surveyor/antiquarian never completed his investigations. Next is the Ring of Brodgar, alias the Circle of the Moon. Finally up on the hill is the Ring [/Rim] of Bookan, a henge monument called the Circle of Stars. It has been noted that this is of similar dimensions to the Stones of Stenness and also has a central setting. Unfortunately a powerful 19th century laird adapted this to be the seat of his Thing, so its original complexion is unknown. The Comet Stone is the tallest surviving part on the mound of a NW/SE aligned setting, an unequal tee being obvious. To the NW it points to the Ring of Bookan, the Ring of Brodgar lies in the extended NW/SW quadrant. NE points towards the Staney Hill standing stone and to the Henge multi-period site of which it is likely a part [apart from a talk by the student involved there doesn't even appear to be even grey literature yet - hopefully when he completes his thesis...]. SE probably points to the 'Watch Circle', but more importantly the short arm of the tee frames the Ness of Brodgar perfectly [and probably the Stones of Stenness beyond too, though I couldn't see that far with what I had]. Could it be that the Comet Stone site is like a grand surveyor's tool ??
Posted by wideford
1st September 2009ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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