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The Wart

Chambered Cairn

<b>The Wart</b>Posted by RavenfeatherImage © Paul Kesterton
Also known as:
  • Hoxa Hill

Nearest Town:Kirkwall (17km N)
OS Ref (GB):   ND433935 / Sheet: 7
Latitude:58° 49' 31.62" N
Longitude:   2° 58' 55.41" W

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<b>The Wart</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>The Wart</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>The Wart</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>The Wart</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Wart</b>Posted by wideford


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Visied 19th April 2013

We parked up at the small parking area at the lovely little beach at the Sands of Wright. Looking back to Hoxa Hill the observation hut atop the hill is clearly visible, signposting the way to the cairn.

Taking the advice of Wideford's fieldnotes we walked back up the road to the fine large country house of Roeberry, where just past the entrance drive, a gate allows access to a lane which runs up the side of Roeberry's garden wall as it heads up the hill.

At the top of the lane you are greeted by gates to each side of you. Directly in front a gate opens onto scrubland atop the hill, where the trig point and observation hut draw the eye toward the small mound of the cairn.

Two curious horses approach us as we stand at the gate, hopefull that we may be carrying apples, they have to be satisfied with a pat on the nose. Ellen, being a little wary of horses, waits at the gate whilst I set off for the cairn with an equine escort.

The Wart is an unfortunate name for the fine remains of an Orkney-Cromarty type cairn, and in fact would be a more fitting epithet for the strange observation hut building which encroaches close to the cairn. From here the views are fantastic over Hoxa Head and out across Scapa Flow, particularly today with clear blue skies complimenting the deep azure sea.

Once this cairn would have been huge, as evidenced by the remains of the circumference, although many of the stones have now gone. It looks as if some stones may have been built up to act as a wind break, as they seemed somehow out of place, but inside the chamber one of the stones that formed the stall is still standing, and as I hunker down away from the wind to write my fieldnotes it's really quite cosy.

On a day like today it's a fine place to spend some time, I could happily stay all day, it feels like a place outside of time, and far away from the hassles of the mundane world, but aware of Ellen still waiting at the gate, I settle for five minutes to soak in the atmosphere, and the promise to return on a day with equally fine weather.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
19th May 2013ce

Can be reached by reached by two slightly different routes. If no-one objects I would say now to take the track that goes up the RH side of Roeberry House and past the quarry. The one I took was what appeared a more direct route further down, a fraction past Roeberry farm. Climbing over the rope-tied metal gate the farmtrack goes halfway up the hill where it becomes obscured by pasture. At the beginning of the second field was a stream outlet fallen into disarray, the dark brown stones marking it out as mediaeval or later. The stream and its walling ran across the hill to come to a halt near the corner here, well seperated from the fieldwall itself. The ?culvert (what I still think of as bridges myself) points downhill (perhaps aligned with The Wart), so my description is possibly incorrect. There are two large slabs across the top and the nearer has a large-ish semicircle out of the edge. A slab on the left has a small circular hole. Taking a second look at the arrangement I wonder if the slabs aren't fallen orthostats. Maybe the ?culvert is a water tank or something. So unlucky to see it in this state. In explanation I now see a well marked on the map further up the field on the wall side.
This field where you can only sense the ruts of the farmtrack I can also feel stones, the remains of a wall or the hardpack of the track I suppose. At the top of the field I had to slip gingerly over the barbwire-fence at the extreme corner where there is a slight rise to effectively reduce the height that vital few inches. Here's where it got tricky because of an expanse of gorse directly ahead. Tried a few ways to pass amongst the shrubbery but only succeeded in getting everything below the knees completely soaked. Quite a few stones in the area, making me consider whether this actually was my target. No. Eventually had to give in and go round to the right. Here I came upon the disused quarry, continuing to get damp the while. Above the lip I saw an earth section with some small stones that might just possibly represent a former structure here if not simply my wild imaginings. At the top end of the quarry is the farmtrack I should have taken. Visible and dry !
My thoughts were that The Wart would be gone or under cover or not up to much. Certainly hard to find. But there stood the chambered cairn exactly where the map showed it (ND433935), smack behind the triangulation pillar. A stone cairn with a circular wall incorporating slabs (I noticed a void under one at the left) and a slab coming towards the centre from the right (the interior was excavated down to floor level). There is a platform about it which seems deeper from behind owing to the building of a water tank (whose wooden superstructure looks like a very fancy bird hide). There are stones on the platform (I didn't spot a rough modern wall about the central depression so I hope it isn't the one I saw ;-), stones behind it and stones in the gorse. There must be something going on besides a quarry and the cairn site.
wideford Posted by wideford
8th August 2004ce


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When the owner of Roeberry did a partial excavation in autumn 1870 the cist had already been opened. In June 1871 Petrie's investigations found stone rubbers and charcoal at the bottom. wideford Posted by wideford
16th December 2005ce

RCAHMS NMRS record no. ND49SW 4 is a much reduced round cairn, probably of a tripartite chamber design. Diameter 9.7m, on or ringed by a 21m diameter platform about 0.4m high that is itself edged by a low stony bank presently with a spread of 4m. There is now a rough modern wall about the hollow at the centre. wideford Posted by wideford
8th August 2004ce