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Loch of Tankerness

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork

<b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by widefordImage © wideford
Nearest Town:Kirkwall (7km W)
OS Ref (GB):   HY522093 / Sheets: 6, 7
Latitude:58° 58' 5.67" N
Longitude:   2° 49' 53.39" W

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<b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford <b>Loch of Tankerness</b>Posted by wideford


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Thought I'd try the Loch of Tankerness again for Raymond Lamb's double BA house/settlement. The stone in the field by Grieves Cottage is now down. Would have liked to know if anything was thereby revealed but new fences were then being set up in the field. Between the loch banks and the loch itself is a very wide flat margin, and though the water level appears to be now lower this margin has dried out considerably. A not quite row of rectangular features has come to light (or at least become more obvious through 'drainage'), long ends facing the loch. Coming south from the gothic boathouse the first one [A] is totally dried out and would seem natural with low opposing linear rocky outcrops/walls forming the long ends with big brown slabs covering three sides and a short line of erect stones coming from landward to the northern end of the long east side. There are two stones that look to form a smal circular arc. The next depression [B] is like a cross betwen semi-circle and rectangle, it is filled with grass and there are only a few of the large brown slabs. The third feature [C] is still a pool, has well-formed sides of that low rocky outcrop (the north side is definitely untouched natural with very long rocks as has the lochward side), no large brown slabs. Its south and east sides are fairly unformed. What is most fascinating, however, is the way that the pool is sub-divided narrow-ways by angled 'causeways' of mostly small stones. Not all of these visibly go all the way between the long sides. They remind me of the stone rows I had seen around the Harray loch. Why not perpendicular ? My thought was fish traps [?fishponds], though I had no idea why this was sectioned up. The next dried-out pond [D] is distinctly L-shaped and regular. The last feature [E] also still holds water and almost has a complete division. With these last two you can look across at the burnt mound and [groan] ponder connections. At the Waterhall end is a drained arm of the loch, the bottom revealed by nature or artifice, I know not which. So after the time of Raymond's drought did the loch levels never recover in the time since or could his features now be permanently exposed but unseen ? wideford Posted by wideford
24th August 2008ce

Went for pics of the Gothic boathouse and decided to approach from the far side of the low 'cliff'. With no expectations I was delighted to find very definite burnt mound material, ye olde black earth, in several areas four and more feet across exposed by livestock and rabbits on the topside. Most definitely it extends far beyond the obvious mound. This material occupies half to, say, two-thirds the field length. Past the actual mound along the cliff's vertical section the burnt stones become the greater visible content, overlain by large irregular slabs as you near the boathouse end, where the 'cliff' peters out. Taking into account the various erect stones protruding along the shore we must surely be dealing with a series of burnt mounds and/or houses. Taking into account that the Bronze Age houses are at water level and below I would suggest that they preceded the burnt mounds. wideford Posted by wideford
25th October 2006ce
Edited 19th June 2007ce

MARCH 15th: Just back from Tankerness again (to take 2 photos of the Grieves Cottage stone's placement) and the presence of two swans in the loch I took as a sign to go there again. Slabs are still visible, though no obvious structures. Stepping back I was surprised to see an apparent small oval structure abutting one of the large flags. Not a simple slab outline but I couldn't help wondering if this was what Raymond Lamb had seen - maybe after the drought of 1980 the loch never recovered its former level and indeed receded further?

Perhaps in Mesolithic times this wasn't even a lochan. When I stepped back up the hill the 'structure' seemed to merge into other stones about so it went unphotographed. One very peculiar feature to report was that one 'corner' was a red stone ball about six inches across. Actually it is completely and minutely speckled with minerals.
wideford Posted by wideford
15th March 2004ce
Edited 26th June 2007ce

For once CANMORE provides no detail apart from this being a burnt mound below which at low water levels can be seen the tops of upright slabs forming an oval structure. This is on the same side of the loch as the Howie Manse and I feel excavation would reveal the area about it to be perhaps as complicated. Opposite the gate that gives entrance to the Grieves Cottage field is a gate to the field on the other side of the road, and you can see the (on this side slight) mound over by. When you approach this it seems more like two mounds - either that or at one time it was rather large. There are some bigish stones in this, especially where it falls away to the shore, but I could discern no structures.

Down on the beach much of the geology seems to be flagstone pavement, including some immense slabs. Must have been low water because I could easily find various upright slabs buried about here. Raymond Lamb in "The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland , 27..." says that the drought of 1980 not only exposed this Bronze Age structure but also an erect row of slabs fifteen metres ESE of the house beside a wall, and that the waters must have risen by at least a metre since these were built (it is only 2m deep now in most of the deeper sections). Certainly some of this doesn't require even waterproof shoes to get close to. Make a nice paddle. I'm not sure I didn't see one or two extra upright scattered about as I couldn't make out the recorded structure's outline myself. Could some of the flagstones also have been part of structures, or at the very least abutted them? Tried to decide but was unable to do so, simply a feeling. Raymond also says many crude stone implements lie on the loch bed.

Between here and The Howie of The Manse is a roofless structure ( HY520092 ) that looks mediaeval , with empty arched windows that feel vaguely churchy . Actually this is a "Gothic boathouse". Look inside and the larger seaward section is filled with what looks like the top of a giant's hogback, with a hollow underneath . Very Romantic.
wideford Posted by wideford
9th March 2004ce
Edited 19th June 2007ce