|Today took the bus to the Merkister Hotel turn-off. Briefly thought about taking the coastal route again but will leave this for winter and coming from the other direction. So left Laxhowe behind and continued on to the Knowe of Browsky at HY306192 by the start of the Nisthouse (Mirbister) road opposite the early letter box (a large circular drystane pillar with a shallow conical cap at HY30681911, not on the NMRS or owt). As mounds go not particularly much to distingush this from a glacial moraine, with a long slow rise to a high point near the junction. From roadside I can see two or three patches of grass on top before coming alongside the high point. Could be from excavation but their being at eye-level means I only have a thin view across them rather than onto them, so there may be one long depression between the flanks. The south end terminates far enough from the main and farm roads that the high end has definitely not been cut into during road-making as I have assumed for those mounds at a right-angle to the Harray Road. At the highest point grass indicates an excavation and at ground level is an even larger circular patch of grass eats at this end into the heather covering the mound. On the point of this particular knowe being named for the excavator, in the present day there is a Canadian archaeologist of this name, perhaps a descendant. I thought I hadn't taken photos on my previous visit so took yet more. On the other side of the Harray Road (HY30631909) there's a large chunk been dug out high up the southern side of a long turf-covered mound or moraine near the roadward end. This is called Faldarol's Hole after a pre Great War travelling crockery vendor who slept wherever he could.
Passing by Uvigar and had another look at a long stone lying down on the side of the mound by the garden wall. Have wondered if this is the milestone. More likely this has been moved because on the S side of farmroad to Moan or minor track S of this (HY314184) is a slant-topped stone with a 'rope edge' giving it a passing resemblance to a pedestal for a lectern or to hold a plaque. Even if it isn't the milestone it is a stone cut like no other I have come across. In this field are a few large boulders. Looking towards St.Michael's Kirk on a false crest are the remains of old Cuppin, one of those long medieaval 'cottages' sitting in a stone walled enclosure. Cuppin is very unusual in that the abandoned building and the new build both appear on the large-scale map [bigger than 1:25,000] with their legend rather than only the latest dwelling, especially given how little distance there is between them Next on the south side is a small copse where there was a quarry, hiding oncoming traffic.
Unfortunately my site for the broch N of Harray Church didn't shine out like the previous occasion, an overcast sky reducing contrast between features.
Nearing the pottery a bridge carries the road. In 1890, or shortly before, the Knowe of Huanan (containing a single cremated burial) was opened near this Brig of Brinanea/Brenaniar [from Brinyan 'brock' I assume]. I wonder if the knowe can be the eyot in the burn on the 1882 map, divided by the Harray Road into a triangle N of the upper Stoneyhill junction and a smaller rectangle on the E side at HY32011725 where there is now a square concrete foundation of something from, I'd hazard, WWII. Could be that the cremation was found whilst building the later (new build) Post Office on the north side of the Conyar road by the junction - Millrose is still nearby, relatively speaking. Alternately a similar eyot beside where Scapa Distillery is now was the site of the Mill of Scalpa [sic]. The building between the pottery and the upper Stoneyhill road junction at HY31971721 started life as a late 18th or 19thC smithy (HY31NW 65) before becoming a post office prior to the 1st O.S., then the post office moved to the 'new build' beyond the eyot. Part of the original smithy would appear to survive unaltered as reduced walls at the north end of the present dwelling.
Having passed by Fursbreck Pottery twice since my idol sighting I thought it would be rather rude not to call in now. As an excuse the promised light rain had finally put in a proper appearance. A few folk in and I felt clumsy. After looking over his pottery range started to go out. Except now the light rain had turned middling. So back inside. The drying pots on their shelves both made interesting patterns and had nice internal shadows. Tried snapping away with my digital camera and out of a dozen or more tries only one shot allowed. Same thing with the SLR - perhaps manual focus would have worked if I'd had close-range confidence. On a sill near the entrance an odd stone took my fancy, mebbe another of Andrew's finds ?? No sense waiting here for hours until the solitary bus came by (I think there was a late one this day). By now the rain were proper pelting it down. Fortunately it never breached my trousers, so after the Harray Road junction went on to the lorrypark bus shelter instead. Reached Kirkwall safe and sound. Then getting up to leave fell back into the bus seat further than where my hand clasped a rail, yanking my arm. Took a day to find the right painkiller, so no sleep that night. Still hurts now.
Posted by wideford
5th October 2010ce
wideford's TMA Blog
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