Deepdale is one of those stones often viewed, its prominent position on a ridge overlooking the main Stromness to Kirkwall road means you always see it peeking into view as you drive along the main road across the island. Actually visiting it though is not quite as straightforward, there being no obvious place to park up anywhere near to the stone, which is why I've always admired it from a distance until today.
I parked at the nearby chambered tomb of Unstan (itself a must see) and took a brisk walk along the A965 towards the stone, which can be seen atop its ridge even from Unstan. Although busy by Orkney standards the trek along the road is not too onerous, and only takes about ten minutes. If you wanted to park a peedie bit closer then there is a pull in (probably for the benefit of fishermen) just over the Bridge of Waithe to your left (if you are heading in the Stromness direction). As you approach the stone an obvious muddy rutted track heads up the rise, but I wouldn't fancy risking taking a vehicle on it unless it was a 4x4 or tractor! Past the large mound of old tyres at the top of the track the stone is clearly visible, although on the other side of a low barbed wire fence. I managed to step over the said obstacle, as I couldn't see an obvious gate into the field from this direction.
I'm actually quite glad I approached the stone in this way, I like having a bit of a walk in to a site, rather than just pulling up and piling out of the car, in some ways it feels more adventuresome, and fires my imagination, feeling like a quest or pilgrimage to these places, particularly as here at Deepdale you can see the stones in view all the way as you approach, beckoning you on. It's probably why I romanticise these places so, the idea of a quest to visit even smallest little stump of stone enough to set my heart fluttering, and it's all part of the experience of visiting a site, soaking in the atmosphere, which for me is the main thing, rather than just ticking another site of the list.
There is cetainly plenty of atmosphere here today, the clear wintry light over the loch seems surreal, the primary colours of the water and the Orkney landscape as vivid as a child's painting, and the haunting call of Curlews and Oystercatchers floating over the loch.
Now I'm sat on a comfortable tussock of grass which has established itself over one of the chocking stones at the base of the menhir, providing a comfortable seat to look out over the lovely view across the Loch of Stenness, the diamond shaped Deepdale stone at my back. I can see most of the sites of the sacred Brodgar landscape from here, Maes Howe clearly visible, and the tiny forms of the distant Stones of Stenness can just be made out.
From here I can also see an interesting looking stone in the field boundary to the east, and on closer inspection it looks as if it could possibly be a standing stone, it is certainly seperate from the fenceline, and I'll post a picture so that maybe someone may be able to shed some light on it.
People may wonder how I can rabbit on and get so enthused by what is in effect a stone in a field (I've encountered several farmers in my time that held this view!), but enthroned here in this wonderful landscape, sat by this ancient stone, it really answers the question of why I do this.
This time I did the clever thing and went to the other end of the quarry and through an open field-gate into the field next door, which is the one with the stones - just follow the field edge over from the quarry tightly uphill if there are crops in it. Despite the crop able to do all the photography I wanted, circling as I had at the Staney Hill one, because this part of the field is rather patchy so that long steps and careful placement of the feet avoids damage. Does this patchiness imply something underlying this, possibly even archaeology ? Looking at the loose and loosened stones directly around the stone I wonder whether s.s. sockets are always contemporary - I can imagine standing stones being, as it were, bare rooted and then someone later noting a Pisa effect and then taking remedial action. Over in the next field towards Howe half-way along the field edge used to be a well (and small building but not a wellhouse), reached by a straight track from the Howe road, and it is likely that other stones noted in the vicinity are from its being filled in in like manner to that at Crossiecrown in St.Ola.
Coming from Unstan and the Brig o'Waithe, not taking the short road over to Stromness but taking the long sweep round it is easy to see this stone on the brow of the hill above the near corner of the quarry-turned-dump. Easiest to go over the gate in the roadside field before this quarry and then over the gate into the containing field. Because the rain was persisting down and the fields full of corn I opted instead to go around the quarry and through a barb-wire fence. But the thistles meant my trews were dampened anyway! At the base of the extant stone a few broken stones are from the socket I would imagine (in the quarry roadside I espied a large stone that may be part of that destroyed other). Trevor Garnham has the broad face the same direction to Unstan as the Setter Stone is to Braeside, which would have been at 45 degrees to the reported NW/SE alignment of the stone [it is at the same longtitude]. The latter appears to indicate the Dyke of Sean or maybe the Wasbister disc barrow.
We sat for ages up here by the stone, gobsmacked at the richness of the neolithic landscape and staggered we could see just about all the 'Hollywood' sites. I couldn't resist painting it all. Unbelieveable position for a stone. Don't miss it.
The Deepdale standing stones (having NW/SE axes), RCAHMS NMRS no. HY21SE 25 at HY272117, used to be a pair - A at HY27171171 and B at HY27181166. Standing at A facing the Unstan Cairn eighty-two degrees clockwise and 44.5m away is/was B, the other side of the south-east fence and further up the hill. The latter was the longer stone at 7'6" compared to 6', though its top was a foot less vertically as at some time in recent centuries a then taller stone had been snapped and the unshiftable remainder left at an angle. It tapered from a 5'3" maximum to a point, whereas A is 4'6" thick (4½" thick) and sub-rectangular. A has a roughly 1x0.2 m edgeset-stone setting showing about 0.3m high, with a roughly metre long stone fragment alongside (there used to be another fragment - one assumes therefore that this s.s. was also slighted). In the 1960's heavy ploughing disturbed stone B and the bulk was removed for safety. The remaining stump, projecting 8-10", was excavated later (at this time other fragments remained) but not enough matter found for the C14 methods back then to work. It measured 4'5" by 6" and sat clay packed in a 6'6" by 4' by 3' deep cut. Most likely the excavation process finished the work of removing this stone