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Cairns O' The Bu

Broch

<b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by RavenfeatherImage © Paul Kesterton
Nearest Town:Kirkwall (24km N)
OS Ref (GB):   ND45428688 / Sheet: 7
Latitude:58° 45' 58.94" N
Longitude:   2° 56' 37.44" W

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The Cairns Blog

https://archaeologyorkney.com/category/the-cairns-dig-diary-2017/
Posted by Lianachan
19th June 2017ce

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<b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Lianachan <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Lianachan <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Lianachan <b>Cairns O' The Bu</b>Posted by Lianachan

Fieldnotes

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Visited 20th June 2017

As the dig season for the Cairns draws towards its end, and the sun makes an appearance through the clouds, it seems like the right time for a trip down to South Ronaldsay to check out the excavation. There is a small parking spot down at Windwick bay, full when we arrived, so we squeezed the car onto the verge, please make sure you don’t block the drive of the neighbouring house though, fortunately we didn’t, but during our visit someone else had, prompting a visit from the irate householder unable to get his car out, giving a bit of a haranguing to the archaeologists!

Soon we were approached by a friendly archaeologist asking us if we would like a tour, and along with a small group of other visitors he proceeded to take us all around the site giving us a fascinating explanation of the various features, before taking us into the finds hut to show us some of the most recent finds, including a lovely bronze ‘Hand-pin’ found a few days ago.

Even without a tour though the site would be well worth a visit. The first thing that struck me was the size of the broch, walls at least three metres thick, with the fine sweep of its circular stonework and its interior orthostats clearly showing dividing partitions within the structure. Just seeing it partially emerged from the ground, and coming back into view for the first time in over 1,500 years was amazing. I was particularly struck by the holed stone orthostat which stood aligned with main broch entrance, the archaeologist suggesting it may have been a stone taken from an earlier neolithic monument from the surrounding area and re-used.

Outside of the broch work was proceeding on the large trench investigating the surrounding village complex. Two furnaces and a number of parts of broken moulds for bronze pins have been uncovered in this area, suggesting production of jewellery on a large scale, and suggestive of an obviously important site.

We learned so much about this fascinating place, particularly intriguing to me was the fact that apparently the broch had at one point been de-commissioned, the upper floors taken down, and used to infill the interior of the structure, but done in a careful way without destroying the internal partitions. Even more mysteriously a souterrain was then built outside of the structure which linked to a chamber built into the infilled broch.

We must have spent at least an hour with the archaeologist, who gave us a fantastic tour of this enigmatic site, and if you ever get the chance to visit during the Cairns relatively short excavation season I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
21st June 2017ce