|Aprill 9th 2010 BRODGAR - LYKING RD - WAITHE
Now I'm no longer working earlier buses are open to me, which is useful for days when rain is due later. Travelling up the road and looking right I can make out a rise, where fields meet, that is presumably the site of Big Howe. Although presently identified as having been a broch I have wondered if this was a chambered cairn like Kokna-Cumming t'other side of the Bridge of Brodgar. Since my visit I have found that strangely enough on an early map Big Howe appears unnamed, not marked as a tumulus but shown as a rectangular earthwork. Square cairns in Orkney ? No way ! Not narrow enough for a kirk I believe it to be a borg, a type of Norse defensive site ofttimes called a Viking Castle. On Thomas map it measures ~ 2.5x3.5mm with the longer axis slightly north of east-west - slightly trapezoid with the sides curved, the southern side bowed out, and a gap at the northern end of the southern side.
At the N end of the brig have another look for a continuance of the stepping stones by the E side. Still can only see them as far as just beyond an iron pole, so either they are hidden or else they have been swept away as this is where the röst races readily between the two lochs. Next up is the Lochview mound, Kokna-Cumming. Researching another topic I found that this has been looked into twice. The first I infer from the internal detail shown on Captain Thomas map in Archaeologia XXIV, not very much but certainly more than appears in its reproduction in books, including a likely entrance passage in the side facing the road (and at right angles to it). Almost four decades later a large amount of the tumulus had to be removed as it impinged upon the corner of a field the farmer wished to expand. The first dig produce a flint arrowhead and flint scraper, the second a small stone slab decorated on each side. On one side there are two fish and what is taken to be a seal. You can see why this made folk think this a broch site as it looks rather Pictish, though what with all the Ness of Brodgar rethink IIRC the decoration is now attributed to the Neolithic. Much later I have a photocopy of the map and use a lupe to check. My passage runs along the N side of the east lobe of a kidney shape occupying the S side of the ?top. Opposite the west lobe is a circle and then a curve runs arond the remaining [north-eastern quadrant], possibly joining the outside line of the 'kidney'.
If it hadn't been for the predicted weather I would have gone to video the mound east of the Bookan Tomb. Made life simpler anyway, no 'Orkney gate' to negotiate and my gammy leg was thankful to find the gate to field containing Bookan Tomb nicely open. Hadn't intended to photograph the tomb but found myself using SLR and ultrazoom cameras to good effect (despite forgetting to use a newly acquired mini-tripod). Videoed some time ago. Gate directly right of track also open and leads me into field with the "eminence thrown up by the brecks" [look at the photos and you really cannot see them as other than a tight grouping] - brecks as land of naturally broken appearance rather than brecks as rough land brought into cultivation. The ground is rather damp near the gate as the farmer is drying a hummock of stuff off, summat black. Although the old map shows only three mounds near the eastern side of the "antique quarry" I have seen a fourth tumulus marked near the north-western quarry, though it is verra
verra small [smaller than the non-burnt mound by the valley lochan but perhaps fractionally higher and perched on tippy-toes above The Brecks [still not sold on them bing a quarry]. Tackled them in sequence weodorshins with each camera in turn, despite which I still had to check images carefully when I got back. Being dimensionless I read above me as N, to the road as E, to Brodgar S, toward Stromness W.
All the mounds have exposed areas, with HY21SE 24 furthermost by the edge of The Brecks undoubtedly the most natural, sitting as it does on the natural rock with its single southern exposure capable of being read as proof either way - at the S side near the base its one exposed area as weel as earth has a couple of thin rocky plates sticking out the edge. Though there is a steepish drop behind its western end [good rocky outcrops in the cliff-face (though a bit ragged for building methinks)] it isn't apparent if there's owt gone from it into the brecks below. When I ventured down a less inclined slope past the N side below its NW'ern end down almost into the brecks I found mself looking onto one or two slight oval troughs that might have held something or slipped down from above. Past the rockiest part of the cliff almost under the SW'ern end there is a single rock slab sticking out of the cliff-face, which though almost undoubtedly natural has had an earthfast orthostat set at a large angle virtually abutting it as if to hold this back. Just the one orthostat, but definitely not natural. Most singular, nothing else near them. A not quite stream winds through the brecks and I am reminded that an antiquarian saw that the Lingadae cremation mounds had had water wound about
Sites HY21SE 9 i (nearer to the tomb) & ii (to the N of i) are built partly onto the hillslope and each have several exposed areas, some earth with a few small stones and others with proper rocks. Almost certainly the latter is the source of the cist. And not just because it has more structural material about and on it. Calling the feature on its top a circular depression is wholly inadequate. Didn't have this in mind as I walked below the eastern flank and looking up at the northern end saw a well-defined curved bank forming the top edge with an equally obvious ditch inside it - despite the excavation definitely an archaeological feature rather than from archaeologist's workings. Coming to look at the W side It is not like the Wasbister Disk Barrow [simply another bowl barrow to earlier writers] as the ditch is seen to encircle the top half.. Or you are reminded that the Bookan Tomb is one cairn later subsumed within another. The record makes you think there's a fair track between this mound and SE 24 but its more like you come down off one and find yourself dashing up the other i.e. no real pause between, ah, childhood.
Didn't see myself having time to go back and 'do' the lesser Broidgar mounds. However I intended to tackle the tumuli remnants north of here, complete my Stenness set. Except that field and in between occupied by sheep. There is much confusion over these tumuli remnants north of Skae Frue (the antiquarian's Skeldro, the true Orcadian name : last bit roo 'heap' first element from Old Norse skjoldr 'shield-shaped' or skilja 'thin flaky stone' or skeid 'path' - most probably the last as the old Stenness-Sandwick track ran by it, though Vikings fond of kenning puns) considered research finding five reports, of which four made it into two site records. Six or seven mounds, two of them definitely artificial and one containg a short cist. And as much as I hate to admit it the excavated cist may be behind the report attached to a mound on the S side of the hill E of the Bookan Tomb.
The antiquarians referred to Buchan Hill as the Black Hill of Warbuster. If this is not a misunderstanding of Orcadian speech it would appear that as well as Wasbister 'loch-farm' [the first records have the tunship as Westbyster (1555) Wesbester (1588) Westbuster (1788), but east is Harray Loch] this area was also the farm of the vardr 'beacon' [later I reach the Point of Veron, another beacon name]. Best guess is that the Ring of Bookan was used for this, perhaps having been a Thing long before Mansie Hay (a lot neater looking than Tingwall). There appears to be a tradition of using ancient sites as Viking beacons - there are e.g. The Wart in South Ron, Verron at the Bay of Skaill, and Veron in Voyatown. It is strange that we have the name Wasbister but no existing farm to go with it - the reference index in the Orkney Library refers both Bookan and Bochan to a mediaeval farm called Brochan. My gut feeling is that these are two seperate names, Bookan/Bûkan/Buchan which has been connected with Welsh bwcca=Puck (but from the early records is actually from bygga 'bere barley' - Captain Thomas saw signs about the ring that someone had attempted to cultivate it) and B(r)ochan either from brekka 'broken [up for cultivation usually] land' or the broch to the north (though this gave its name to a Burrian between it and the broch itself). In 2005 an archaeological survey of the second field south of the farm road to Bochan found flints at the top and bottom of this, one a Neolithic arrowhead (not the Mesolithic they hoped for. However I think these finds are yet to be gone over properly like many modern collections). It strikes me as quite probable there are more such south of here, certainly many have been found on the three farms to the N before trailing off about the fourth, Appietown. A cist was found near Buchan and another came from levelling a mound near Appiehouse that surely gave its name to Howan. I had thought that the 'services' associated with this area (part of a sequence starting at the Odin Stone) took
place at the Ring of Bookan. But now from the air a circular cropmark of similar size has been seen two fields below Brochan Cottage, and the 'idols' were kept at the house.
Decided to look again for the Lyking 'souterrain'. Thought first I'd look across to see if I could make out the tumuli even further north. On the skyline somewhere about hands of Mid House (not unaided of course) a tractor worked near a long tumulus but what looked obvious on a map wasn't so when you could not make out the hillside roads needed for reference points. I could have been looking at Shennar Howe for all I knew. That is one mound with a smaller mound upon it (like Bookan ?) where once one of those barrow merchants started to dig a 'building' before the farmer stopped him. A metre plus point-nine metres would make this stand out if one were really upon the other, otherwise it's height would be on a par with the others near here. The Lyking turn off is easy to miss because even on foot it looks more like someone's drive. Lyking farm is straight ahead. well, except that there is a deviation because there was once a graveyard somewhere here (or more precisely graves kept 'popping up'), though it's a bit far from from the presumes Lyking chapel site to have gone with that.
Further along I wonder if the mound at HY27121514 on the E bank of the stream is actually HY21NE 5 [supposed ~HY274151 where only glacial mounds exist, though at a push one of the pools could be site of a demolished mound] even though it isn't north of Lyking farm. Looking at sites up from the mound and broch first we have HY21NE 26 at HY26991549 an 'earth'-filled cist with ?crouched inhumation and steatite urn from ~1940, HY21NE 8 at HY27061533 two empty short cists found a yard apart ~1852 in the side of a hillock fiteen metres from which somewhen around 1956 came HY21NE 8 at HY27061533 a 3' x 2' x 2'6" cist with the top just underground, then northernmost HY21NE 24 ~HY271152 where a Viking grave was found in a now vanished mound no later than 1870.
The other time I tried to find the broch's underground passage though insufficient foreknowledge I made the mistake of looking for it in the southern edge of the broch and expecting maybe a shallow drain-like feature. Now I saw it
right beside the road at HY27071511, as 'advertised' only a foot or so from the fence. Behind three slabs (probably part a fragmented roof lintel, the largest about two foot high) is a dark void in which I see nothing, though behind a grassy fringe immediately right of the stones I see a wall composed of thin slabs. This will be part of the 700mm square built passage. I doubt this is the real entrance, my guess being that that was wiped out by the road or whatever track preceded it. This side of the broch mound is supposedly outworks but looking round me all still falls within the circuit of the tower itself. When examined the passage went SE for eight feet and then turned quickly E towards the burn. Soon the way was blocked by a combination of steepness and mud, although it is also related that explorations came to a halt when the candle went out. I wonder if the chapel-site might not be secondary broch settlement itself. Alternatively lyking means 'landing-place'.
The rain finally came but it wasn't up to much. And as my legs were fine I continued westward. Up on the hillside in front of me is the farm of Upper Lyking with the Linga Fiold mounds on the skyline (HY21NE 19 with three mini standing stones HY21NE 22 gone from a little to their NE). Why they changed the site name from the original Lykin(g) is beyond me. Soon I see the sites of the Voy crannog survey in front of me [someone should really check out the three holms in the Swannay loch]. Coming to Easter Voy there is a squarish feature down near the loch that has intrigued me before. Only the remains of a mediaval house I thought, but heck why not. An old but broad track runs down with a drystane fieldwall on the west edge, a barb-wire fence on the other. At the top end you pass between two tall erect stones (for an 'Orkney gate' you'll say) with a third a few metres away along the fence line as I go down. Coming closer to the feature I notice its walls are slightly curved as if from the Broch Age. The fieldwall turns round and joins onto the walling though the join appears to be much later. Imagine my suprise to find no building remains. Instead the interior is slightly swampy and this, at HY26251507, is one of two wells either side of Easter Quoy ?cottages [later on an old map I see the track starts at Easter Voy itself, up on the hillside over the road]. In the north half a natural slab sticks out, from under which I imagine a wellspring came despite the fact that the well is a slab sided box in front of it at a slight angle.
A burn actually continues through this out of the wellpark and down to the loch - perhaps the water once pooled inside this peedie enclosure. A contact of mine [hey Goffik] with an interest in wells has never seen one like this, and if all you had of this was a diagram showing track and enclosure you might have taken it for a variant souterrain, which alas this cannot be.
I have been photographing and videoing the Voy 'crannogs' from the road and then after passing the 'cottages' decide I might as well go the whole hog and follow the loch edge around The Ness. Voy simply means bay or inlet. There are two of these
sites ; site 1 is RCAHMS NMRS record no. HY21SE 85 at HY27071511 then slightly further away a likely burnt mound site 2 is HY21SE 86 at HY26091490. Somehow I failed to see the ever-visible causeway linking the former to the land, probably that short distance walking the field edge rather than the shoreline deprived me of this or its more visible from the islet than the shore. From a Romantic perspective site 2 is the more interesting site, with large stones on the top giving a jaggedly profile and that fine section of wall exposed in the western side. Continued around to the next upstanding archaeology.
I think I had to squeeze through a barb-wire fence to reach the two Point of Veron sites. Ver(r)on means beacon. I can imagine the Vikings referring to the Ring of Bookan simply as a beacon but find it difficult to believe they would do so for an existing kirk as is believed for that posited for the Point of Veron. Unfortunately the point is one of those places you can only show in profile as however much you can distinguish features on the ground the camera sees them as a wash of pale straw and green grass. And they feel like one site really. First a very low circular mound [as distinct from rise] with a depression most of the interior, and directly a higher mound occupying the bulk of the Point itself. The former is HY21SE 39 at HY25661495, identified with a pale of rubbish and stones in the Orkney Name Book (1880), the latter HY21SE 27 at HY25691496 a pre-16thC kirk and graveyard. The ONB mound is a much better fit for a mound [HY254151 I think] where The Ness ends to the W near the Lyking road (I had to climb through one or two more barb-wire fences to reach it without backtracking) and is still used as a dump. If so then the description of HY21SE 27 as a kirk surrounded by a circular graveyard is an error for one with a circular graveyard - the same mistake has occured with one of my descriptions of a site, so I know this happens. I lied about the photos, one feature does photograph well. The remains of a fence seperate 'mound' and 'kirk' and close by, near its southern end, is the top foot or two of an angle-topped orthostat also running roughly N/S [should've checked]. No more visible stones but on the putative kirk top there are two circular depressions, a large one and a smaller one, though whether the result of excavation or indicating underlying features I can't say.
Near the main road is another burnt mound, HY21SE 26 at HY25351497, in the last open space on the south side of the Lyking road. Its being so close to the mill and its dam I can't help imagining this too was once an islet in the loch like the islet at Redland to the south. In the north side are a couple of very obvious stone blocks. Too nacked by now to go in for a look. The record is for two mounds. That at the back is reckoned natural but it strikes me that what with the disparity between their sizes these could have formerly been one, with the 'cist slab' from the highest point being its centre too. The derelict building on the burn's other bank is Voy Mill itself. On this side further along tis a small scatter of middling stones unlike the usual result of wall collapse and these could have been taken from the burnt mound and removed here after the rest received use elsewhere.
Finally reaching the Works turnoff and still I'm looking for the burnt mounds in the wrong place, as later I find that that still existant (the other now gone from the Ness of Seatter) is near the western end of this arm of the loch. Still can't make out any of the Seatter mounds. When stone walls run up over hill at the peak they can be mistaken for mounds themselves, and my excuse is the tumuli here are in close proximity to such walls. Should have made out the tallest, though, unless it is the one excavated in recent decades. Soon the road joins the main Stromness-Kirkwall road near Deepdale. Going to Waithe up near the top of the quarry is the remaining official standing stone. From the quarry's southern end opposite the second field along is another place a flint survey took place. HY21SE 91 at HY275115 goes under the name of Ragashore. Here they had a good haul from their transects, 'striking gold' with a Mesolithic scatter by the shoreline.
Finally reached the brig. Folk going to Unstan tomb. Eventually stopped here at the bus shelter. Waited over the time as usual. At home after eight hours a whole lot less tired than doing three-and-a-half as a cleaner !! Legs fine until I went to bed. Oh, beggar. Barely a wink's sleep with hips on fire and pressurised thigh. Worth it though.
Appendix 1 - BOOKAN-WASBUSTER TUMULI
What appear to be three reports in the NMRS are one. Captain F.W.L. Thomas in 1851 is the earliest note of them and isn't one of those. Several bowl-barrows in an era in on a moor north of that mound with a scatter of many lumps of cramp, some
incorporated in the Warbuster hill-dyke. But in September 1850 George Petrie excavated a small cist in a small barrow near the Ring of Bookan - there is a photo of a crude hammerstone from the back of this in P.S.A.S. VII. In 1928 RCAHMS came to call
(Howan Wasbuster, RCAHMS reord no. HY21SE 40) but gave bad directions - fortunately they did tell us they were the ones on the map ! A group of 6/7 mounds all under 2½' high with large quantities of cramp. Special note was taken of one some 34 foot
across having a few stones of decent size about its north margin with a NW/SE aligned 20"x18" cist near the centre in which the inspector found a bit of calcined bone. Next to it was a 21'D probably natural mound but then a similar sized mound to the first also
with earthfast stones about the base [like Bookan Cairn HY21SE 19 had]. The latter had signs of excavation too, as had a fine-turf covered 25'D mound some 200~300m north. In the mid-1930's J.G. Callander saw them (HY21SE 4 at HY280145) but similarly
muddled up the directions, referring to the Ring of Brodgar rather than the Ring of Bookan. He refers to the notable mound as having the stones of a cist cover visible at the top and covered by cramp. By 1966 the O.S. sees a total of seven mounds 4-10mD by
0.2-0.7m high which it correctly equates with those seen by Callander. At HY28031459 they found a mound without cist. The explanation would be that Callander mistook the cist base for a cover and these fragments were lost in the intervening decades. All of
which leaves one anomaly. In 1964 the farmer at Howan had levelled the field adjacent to the north three years previously but still had a 5mD 0.7m high earthen mound (also HY21SE 40) to show the O.S. (at HY27921466), though this is most likely natural
Appendix 2 - WASBISTER RELICS
Intrigued by Nick Card's reference to flints found north of the Bookan tomb. Unfortunately unless there have been later surveys than the dates here one cannot be sure if any finds came from the Black Hill of Warbuster itself. I have left out the definite Viking
vessel but included two cists. All measurements from the imperial to nearest sixteenth of an inch, so could be 1mm out either way.
'Arion Farm' HY21NE 16 at HY289144 [either Bookan or Bockan land]
2005 fieldwalking transects revealed a large amount of big heavily-cracked flints near the main road and near the shoreline a Neolithic leaf arrow-head stood out in a flint concentration
BOCKAN farm land
NMAS 1892 catalogue. Three items identified as mace-heads [later IIRC] - two possible proto-cushion types, one of quartzite (AH177) the other gabbro (AH181), and a chalcedony fragment (AH180).
PSAS LXIII (1928-9). Flint items ; four arrow-heads and six leaf ones, one plus six scrapers, a borer, a knife. A whitish quartzite hammer of 'flat' elliptical cross-section. A crude broad-ended 267x87x25 mm ground club-like stone ?axe. All HY21SE 51.
PSAS LXV (1930-1). Two finely polished stone tools ; half a flattened oval section (41x33 mm) hammer, broken at the perforation, and a small fragment of a red and grey flint one. Found by Nicol Dickson (HY21SE 45)
Callendar mentions two broken stone hammers in the NMAS and a mottled brown and yellow fragment, small but finely ground (this HY21SE 52).
BUCKAN farm land
HY21SE 6 at HY28461578. In 1871 short cist with light substance resembling ashes found at top of distinct rise, now area shows as plough-damaged stone scatter
BOOKAN farm land
NMAS 1892 catalogue. Three items identified as mace-heads [later IIRC] - a granite ovoid broken at perforation (AH183), a gneiss pestle type (AH184), and a possible oval one.
PSAS LXIII (1928-9). Flint tools ; two plus one (grey) leaf arrow-heads (the third calcined), eight plus nine (grey) scrapers, knife, pointed blade with battered [angled] back, grey slug-shaped curved tool, grey sub-triangular tool. Two stone axes, 54x35x17 mm
and 22x27x17 mm [sic]. HY21SE 47 & 48.
PSAS LXV (1930-1). Flint tools ; 32x19 mm yellowish leaf arrow-head, 44x24 mm triangular arrow-head, 62x44 mm mottled yellow side-scraper, twenty-nine scrapers, three knives, three pointed tools, two borers, combo tool end scraper and pointed tool. Four
black chert scrapers. Three stone hammer fragments broken at perforation. 43x37x19mm piece of ground haematite. 5mm thick stone bead 14x13 mm. All HY21SE 47.
Callander mentions three broken stone hammers (HY21SE 50) in the NMAS and six crudely made stone axes. He also says Peter Irvine's collection (HY21SE 47) amounted to 6 leaf arrow-heads, 42 scrapers, 2 side scrapers, 3 poorly made knives, 6 poorly
made ?borers. Also four chert scrapers and three partly burnished haematite objects.
PSAS LXVI (1931-2). Flint tools ; fourteen scrapers of black/grey/yellow/red flint, including two side scrapers, grey pointed tool, three worked flints. Three partly burnished heamatite nodules, third somewhat wedge-shaped, sizes 86x38x27 mm and 40x33x 21
mm and 30x17x6 mm. A roughly prepared stone axe 86x67x30 mm with only one end ground. 133x81x51mm sub-oval stone having a ground hollow running along the top side. Broken stone ?mould 67x44x29 mm having a 29mmD 6mm deep hole on the top. All
APPIEHOUSE [a.k.a. Abbeytown]
HY21NE 16 at HY284150. In 1850 a short cist with ashes found during the removal of a mound [Howan] several feet high.
PSAS LXIII (1928-9) donation of leaf arrow-head found by Mr.Firth.
PSAS LXV (1930-1) Callander mentions a burnished haematite object (HY21SE 55) two mottled grey flint tools, one a 57x44 mm irregular oval and the other an axe fragment 86x44 mm, and seventeen arrow-heads (16 flint and one chert) - two barbed and the
rest leaf arrow-heads of which seven are of a thick but narrow type he calls an Orkney type (all HY21NE 54).
There may be more flint scatters south of HY21NE 16 of course but they definitely seem to peter out at Appiehouse.
Posted by wideford
25th April 2010ce
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