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Konger's Knowe

Round Barrow(s)

<b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by widefordImage © wideford
Also known as:
  • Kongarsknowe
  • Congesquoy Hillock
  • Fairy-brae of Congesquoy
  • Konger's-know

Nearest Town:Stromness (10km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   HY345051 / Sheets: 6, 7
Latitude:58° 55' 42.11" N
Longitude:   3° 8' 16.29" W

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<b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford <b>Konger's Knowe</b>Posted by wideford


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On a less blowy day I measure the full size as 35~37m diameter with the main body 29m long but only 17-and-a-half metres across (as taped at the northern end). The water-filled depression comes out at 35m diameter, which can be no coincidence.
The mound cannot be seen from the road in Orphir village. As you approach Scorradale it can be seen, often with the top of the mound roughly on a level with the hilltops across the water. From up on Scorradale Kongarsknowe can be seen very easily (unlike the Hillock of Breakna). At the bottom of the hill, by the Scorradale junction, looking across the mound presents the appearance of filling a meniscus. From there the top is dead level with the skyline across the Flow. This would seem to be a specific placement, though the base of the meniscus is formed by more than one piece of Orphir land.
wideford Posted by wideford
3rd November 2005ce

As you go down towards Gyre you can see Konger's Knowe on the left a couple of field's away from the road, so I decided to try a direct approach first. Unfortunately the old field dyke boundary is a formidable obstacle still, broad and deep and mired in vegetation, so I had to content myself with standing on top of the almost buried wall this side of the dyke. On trying to find a way further down I thought I was in luck when I saw two tall stones across the dyke, but though I thought there were other materials there I could not see through the plants. [Only after I came back did I realise that this was the old gate in the boundary referred to by Johnston (HY34440489) else I would certainly have taken preliminary photos and measurements. I had not expected an actual physical entity surviving to now. Think of a farm gate using middling {1.1m}standing stones for posts only with a seperation{1.3m} nearer to that of a domestic garden gate. Quite the thing. I shall have to go back next year when the entire site is rather more visible !]. Kongar is either named for being a ' king's farm' or after someone of that name lost to history.

After visiting the 'chambered cinerary urns' site above Gyre I went back up the road and entered the quarry field (used for building the slab fences hereabouts in the early to mid-19th century) and from the opposite corner (whose 'Orkney gate' was thankfully down) walked across into the Kongarsknowe field. At present there is a large circular pool of water by the lower half of the turf-covered mound, probably in a natural depression. What was most necessary was to find out the knowe's composition. Even from afar I had seen exposed bits. Looked like the usual earth with a few small stones. Only up real close did this reveal itself to be mostly ?decayed rock, probably sandstone. Though Johnston called this a tumulus there appeared to be no signs of structure. On the other hand I cannot believe this to be a (wholly) natural mound. Unable to tell its shape and there was too much wind for the tape measure. It paced out to about 70m around the steeper, unploughed, main bit. From here the mound slopes more gradually until it peters out somewhat over 90m circumference. The central portion (? rocky core) is well over two meters high (possibly three) and the 'base' another metre below that.
wideford Posted by wideford
9th October 2005ce
Edited 2nd November 2005ce

Two year's ago going up from the Hall of Gyre (alias Orphir House) at the first corner I looked back to the left of Gyre and saw a couple of fields away a large mound (HY24460513) of apparently crescentic shape lay in splendid isolation. At least one side of the field it lay in was bounded by a fence of (?thin) slabs. But it wasn't shown on my map or on the NMRS (and nothing thereabouts on CANMAP). So perhaps, big though it was, it was only a modern spoilheap, despite there being nothing for it to be the spoil from anywhere in sight. In the end I had to reject the evidence of my eyes and believe it to be modern. Only now have I found that this used to be Congesquoy, the site of a mound.that failed to make the 1882 map despite having been known since 1797 according to a map in a privately printed work of Alfred W.Johnstone that shows three other 'missing' archaeological sites in the Gyre/Gear area. wideford Posted by wideford
29th September 2005ce
Edited 3rd October 2005ce


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Sometime in the early or middle nineteenth century a Mr.Fortescue of Swanbister wished to dig it but was warned by a James Flett in Lerquoy not to excavate the "old landmark". Which is why it remains and possibly how it came to be forgotten - it is not certain whether Johnston refers to having seen it himself. wideford Posted by wideford
29th September 2005ce
Edited 9th October 2005ce


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now RCAHMS NMRS record no. HY30NW 31 wideford Posted by wideford
25th June 2006ce

There is a Congesquoy near another Bu, the Bu of Cairston/Garson, whose name is said to mean a quoy acquired by the earl. However near Gyre later in the 19th century the fields of Upper and Lower Congesquoy lie within the Commonalty. But again Johnston's 1820 map shows Congasquoy (sic) outside of this, and Kongar signifies ' the king's field '. So it comes as no surprise that the one in Stromness was also called Konisquoy i.e. Konigs Quoy. wideford Posted by wideford
9th October 2005ce
Edited 9th April 2006ce