|Took off for the first bus to Dounby from Kirkwall. This goes via Evie and the Tingwall ferry. During the moments the bus stayed at Tingwall the sun shone down on Rousay's Ward Hill area to pick out the lines of cultivation like some mountainsiide paddy field. Rather than try guessing where on the outskirts I needed to be waited for the bus to stop at the crossroads and made my way back out again. On the N side of the road came across a stone I would love to have been the Whilco stone, only it is way too neat, has been engraved and is the wrong side. Tried finding it in both directions with no luck. The Whilco stone was at HY29622085, where the underdyke met the foredyke [both still visible] on the S side of the Hillside Road where that bends slightly about where a track now runs roughly ESE from its S side. Strangely "Harray, Orkney's Inland Parish" shows the stone after the 1871 cist findspot, E rather than SSW of Esgar, instead of before it as shown in the 1st 25" O.S. Which is HY298211 just past the modern Quilco development.
Onto the Harray road again and in a field adjoining the W side in Sandwick parish the map has the legend Fan Knowe (aka Hyval Cottage, RCAHMS NMRS record no. HY21NE 31 at HY29991975), thought to be a burnt mound, despite lack of the right stuff, because it bears similarities to one near Ballarat House (fan 'wreath of snow'). This N/S aligned mound is some 23m by 16m and about 1.8m in height. Despite which I could not make it out from the road - perhaps 'hidden' against the water feature. At six foot high it should be no bother when I have the time and the grass is hopefully lower.
Coming to the Merkister junction it is nice to finally have a name for the mound there that 'seperates' the Knowes o' Congar from the Park Knowes. It would be nice to think that Laxhowe is named for one of the nearby lochans. Or were they once one. Indeed there is a suspicious pool on the other side of the road from these, and I wonder if there was perhaps a much larger loch of which all three bodies of water were part. If so, anything to do with the system of drains into the Burn of Layane to the SSE ? Fewer of the Conger knowes have heather on them than I remembered. If thre had been a lochan of greater extent what was its relation to these, did they stand proud in the water.
Thie Burn of Layane strikes me as a millstream with its stone-lined walls. And on this occasion I spot a square niche on the inner face just like there is at the Mill of Ireland. Still don't know what it is for, cooling butter mayhap. Looking eastward there is what from the road has the appearance of a circular mound quartered by a drystane wall and a line of brown dock. As far as I can tell from my abysmal map-reading this is likely to be the Knowe Field of Howen Brough just S of the burn (Corston, Howen Brough aka Knowe of Haewin - HY31NW 32 at HY31801914) - not to be confused with Howand Brae. The level summit appears to be the primary site, thought by some an early church but pear-shaped - in 1946 14.5m along the E/W axis and varying in width along this from 3.5-10m). The amorphous base of this possible broch has been mucked about and both E and W ends heavily quarried - steep banks at the S and E may reflect secondary use (1946 0.75 and 1.6m respectively). A definite broch, Burrian (Corrigal), is no great distance away (just N of same burn) and the sloping nature of this mound is ringing bells as matching a different kind of site altogether [like Head of Work ??]. A field at Nether Corston is called Bigoo 'Big Howe' like the Stenness broch.
Another example of my poor sense of perspective when I confuse the much undulating land on the other side of the road for the land below the St.Michael's Kirk hill. These come to no great height or depth and are, I guess, the twisting banks of some long-gone burn. Nice to have such a feature that has never gained a name as beginning to think everyplace had one, which would make the use of terms such as knowe or howe of more limited use as indicators of potential archaeological archaeology. The next roadside dwelling is a house called Uvigar, which woud appear to be from ?uivigar 'clumsy object' (though possibly simply named after a place in Evie rather than referring to difficulties here), and a new build as the Harray parish book only has The Knowe field here. Said mound is at HY30951888 by the house's north side. It may have extended to the W side of the road where thare are middling stones roadside. However there are further stones north of this bit so they could always be road substrate I guess. Like Laxhowe it lies at right-angles to the Harray road and has been snubbed, as it were, by this From the side it rises gently from the E and then becomes yer usual mound with a slightly scooped top (that when I walked upon it felt excavated) before dropping down fairly sharply down at the near end (more gradually at the sides), presenting a snail profile that way on [now]. Unlike Laxhowe the cut roadside end is the conic section you'd expect, excepting a vertical linear exposure. With the vegetation acting as a focus it is difficult to photograph the whole exposure. In one image I have parts of small ?slabs and disintegrating rock, which initially made me think of bedrock - this then being the 'hindrance'. But in a wider shot it could be archaeology, and there apear to be a few wall blocks, for my lacking a more precise term. A survey of unidentified Mesolithic flints by Caroline Wickham-Jones includes Uvigar (HY31NW 61 ~HY310188 - position unknown apart from name). This would fall into a growing pattern in Scotland of B.A. barrows turning up such bygones (e.g. Long Howe in Tankerness, possibly even another of her sites, Congesquoy) that is still awaiting someone's full attention - the working archaeologist that mentioned this is working too hard in their own field, like many an other, but it would surely make a good subject for an UHI thesis. A question arising is why not in the Neolithic too ? Could always be the later Meso flints are difficult to seperate from the earliest Neolithic ones - or no-one has thought to looked. Might be the elf-dart legend has Bronze Age antecedents.
The sun is still shining brilliantly as I come towards the farmtrack from Upper Appietown (aka Oddies) and is picking out features in the field below this. Almost the entire lot could be a broch that has been reduced to its foundations, and perhaps beyond. This is most definitely North of Harray Church (antiquarians always mean latitude unless they specifically state a compass direction [as in "due North"] ) and the foot of the hill. This day the slight rise from the broch tower is wonderfully highlighted. Between it and the remains noted previously a broad dry ditch curves round and westward the land rises high in an arc like the bank/hillock behind the Broch of Lingro site. Alas my brain went on the fritz and I only took photos of the track stuff - the next time I had a dull surprise and the contrast almost gone. The only problem with my slight rise is that it isn't completely circular, because at one place it merges into the slope behind. At least I finally used my SLR and camcorder on the Harray Churchyard mound while the sun shone, even if for the most part it is thoroughly peppered by graves.
Passing the pottery I thought about popping in to see Andrew Appleby again. However I thought it to soon and I am no great shakes as a conversationalist. So after a few more pics of the Harray School mounds [+1?] trudged down to the Harray junction to await the bus.
Posted by wideford
21st September 2010ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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