Coming down the Muddisdale track (the farm a likely looking site for a Viking borg) I thought to essay the Pickaquoy mound now I had a better idea where it lay. Looking across the pitch behind the Pickaquoy Centre I could see the likely candidate in the nearby field, just along from the Centre. So I went through the side gate and struck across to the diametrically opposite corner where I came to a burn I never thought to find, running by the lower boundary. Holding the field wall carefully I swung myself around and slide between two fence lines, so avoiding any pitfalls the grassy bank might hold. Going to the mound I passed over running water and several low humps and ?ditches, making this site feels very much like the remains of a settlement Amongst these I thought I detected an entrance way coming from uphill. I am reminded of the hollow curve across the Knowe of Geoso, also said to be from quarrying, though that is more geometric (also better defined) and far deeper. In one place it is denuded, showing only bare earth. But approaching from Muddisdale in what remains of the actual mound can be seen an excavation trench from last century that resembles burnt mound material, though the red stones amidst the black earth at the top of this section are rather small to my mind (being only a couple of inches or so across it seemed to me - certainly not of an order with those in the middeny material of the cliff-face below Scapa Distillery). At least one slice taken across the main body of the mound is still evident. From the top of the mound you can see the mill buidings where once was only a sand bar, so this place was once near the water's edge just as the IA settlement in front of what is now St.Magnus Cathedral used to be (even in Viking times boats landed before where the cathedral now stands) . The other side of the mound is very marshy, my feet submerging several times before reaching the comparative solidity of the field boundary I can understand why there used to be a ford nearer the Peerie Sea. So was this formerly a stream junction ? Having said which this is still the easier entry point - coming along the Pickaquoy road from the supermarkets take the track turning off for Polrudden Guest House and the field gate is the other side of the modern mound at your left.
RCAHMS NMRS no. HY41SW 13 at HY44071116 according to present thinking is a burnt mound, presumably of a similar construction to Hawell (rather than the standard crescentic variety). Brockan in Stromness was once seen as a larger version of this type. Also one thinks of those burnt mounds such as Liddle (near the Tomb of The Eagles) and Bea that Hedges found to include houses in them. The first accounts of this tumulus found what at the time were described as two large cists seperated by 4' of build, the smaller being sub-divided. Built into the wall of the mound was a 4' by 10" stone with a central cupmark and three-and-a-half crude concentric circles (now in the National Museum of Scotland). A second long slab had a large cupmark also centrally placed and on another side no less than thirteeen smaller ones (Henshall knew only about one of the decorated stones, and even so was at a loss to explain its presence without dating the decoration to LBA, which he was loath to do.). So could it be that this was a standing stone site re-used, as suggested for the far grander Maes Howe ? Certainly suggestive of this being more than just a settlement is the former presence nearby of St.Duthac's chapel.