"Orkney Today" and "The Orcadian" of June 4th 2009 report the discovery of a potential tomb at Heathfield, beehive shaped and built straight into the bedrock. There is a lintelled space opposite the corbelled cell... continues...
BROUGH OF BIRSAY SAFE CROSSING
Radio Orkney has discontinued their early morning tide times for tourists to reach the Brough of Birsay. Their system took three-and-a-half hours off the Kirkwall low tide and then allowed five hours for safe crossing. Ocassionally this proved conservative but on very rare occasions folk still got stuck. The reports will be resumed when/if a more reliable method is found.
Up from the Harray Community Centre take the Netherbrough Road, go way down past Maesquoy and The Castle is on your right before the Ballarat House turn-off abutting the road. Because of the conflicting measurements I suspect some belong to the mound and others to the slight eminence it sits on. But most definitely well above head height from the road ! I didn't have time to go on the mound, so I don't know if the outcropping stones are still visible - perhaps they have been used for the modern cairn, thought to be broch material.
I went as far as the turn for Ballarat House, and in the field opposite Gullow is what looked like a banked feature which looks equally Iron Age but must be modern as it is not noted anywhere.
NMRS record no, HY31NW 1. In 1946 the rectilinear mound is 40-45 yards square and 12 foot high but in 1960 it is described as ~45m N/W by 36m and 1.5m high which does not compute. I suspect some belong to the mound and others to the slight eminence it sits on. Most definitely well above head height from the road ! An irregular outcrop of stones from the turf is thought to hint at a substantial structure beneath.
North of Harray Community Hall is the Netherbrough Road. Just past Yeldavale the knowe stands out boldly in the far corner of a field, at this time swamped by bright vegetation vegetation. If only I hadn't already been walking for miles I would have paid a visit despite the blooming plants. It sits on marshy ground thought to have been a lochan. Less than a kilometre further down is another broch, the Knowe of Gullow.From there I went as far as the turn for Ballarat House, where in the field opposite Gullow is what looked like a banked feature which looks equally Iron Age but must be modern as it is not noted anywhere. Burrian's underground structure brings to my mind two Orcadian sites, one where a broch was built over a tomb and another where the supposed broch was purely ceremonial/ritual
The Knowe of Burrian , NMRS record no. HY31NW 2, was once 60' in diameter and 17 high. A berm seperates south and west sides of broch remains 1.2m high on the flattened top of a steep natural hillock. On the east side are three courses of outer wall face and possible traces of the inner wall face, from which it is estimated that its external diameter is ~18.3m and internal 8.5m.
After several failed digs by other folk Robert Flett of Garth made a go of excavating it in 1936, when a trench found distinct layers of 'hearth-materials' - charcoal, pot-boilers, animal bones, etc - before almost at the other side a slight turn revealed an interior chamber floor. As well as the Pictish Symbol Stone he found some burnt wood, stone tools and ashes. Then came one of those myserious 'wells' . Of two excavations in the centre of the mound the more westerly is the now covered location of an underground chamber. From a vertical entrance approx. 2'6" square eleven steps led steeply down 12' to a 10'x5' flat-roofed figure-of-8 corbelled structure compared to the Gurness well then being dug, though the site was called an earth-house rather than a broch at the time.