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Vinquoy (Chambered Tomb) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Vinquoy</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Vinquoy</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Vinquoy</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Vinquoy</b>Posted by Ravenfeather Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
14th June 2014ce

Braeside (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Visited 17th May 2014

This is yet another impressive tomb on the Eday Heritage trail in the Vinquoy area, the yellow of the gorse on the hillside contrasting with the blue of the sea ahead, and the denuded remains of the tomb are clearly visible as you head towards the hill.

Dug into but still large, the remains of the bank around it giving an idea of the size it would once have been, which would have been a substantial mound by the looks of it, a shame that only an adumbration of its form remains. A southern entrance passage is still visible which opens into a narrow stalled chamber, a couple of orthostats still standing to show where one of the compartments was. The entrance passage is particularly interesting in that is offset slightly, by 10° from the axis of the chamber, so that it aligns directly with the nearby Stone of Setter.

Standing in the entranceway you get a great sightline of the standing stone, or rather you would if someone in the past hadn’t built a stone byre directly in the way! It’s still possible to see the alignment though as long as you move yourself off centre slightly.

I manage to find a small information sign about the tomb attached to a post, which had fallen over and now lies prone in the grass. This indicated that there would have been three pairs of stalls within the chamber, and that it was excavated by Farrer in the 1850’s, probably leaving it in the state it’s in today.

Although battered it’s got a certain charm. In some way it reminded of a truncated version of the Cairn O’ Get in Caithness, not sure why as it’s different in layout, it just had that ‘feel’ to it that some of the tombs you find in Caithness have, I also find it interesting that on the slopes of Vinquoy hill we have three very different designs of tombs, the stalled cairn of Braeside, double-decker special of Huntersquoy, and mini Maes Howe style Vinquoy. I wonder why that is? It’s almost as if this part of Eday was like a chambered tomb showroom, where you could pick out the style of monument you’d like for your own Neolithic community! Or it could be I suppose a very special place where different communities came together, each bringing their own style of tomb to the area.

I still think it’s a very special place, and a nice appetizer for the delights of Vinquoy just atop the hill ahead.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
14th June 2014ce

Braeside (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Braeside</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Braeside</b>Posted by Ravenfeather Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
14th June 2014ce

Huntersquoy (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Visited 17th May 2014

On the slopes of Vinquoy hill an intriguing entranceway seems to open up into the heart of the hillside. Once it was a fine rare double-decker construction, but now all that remains of the upper chamber is a few stones to delineate the skeleton of the top part of the tomb.

There is a small information sign from the Eday Heritage Walk attached to a post nearby, which indicated that the upper chamber had a west facing passage, whilst the lower chamber faced to the east, just like Taversoe Tuick. It’s an intriguing design, and I wonder if there were any more tombs built like this which are lost to us now, or was this incredibly specialised design purely a local innovation amongst the folk of the northern Orkney’s? Farrer excavated here in 1855 but didn’t seem to come up with any answers, I wonder if there’s been any investigations since?

The sign, as well as prior fieldnotes, indicated that the lower chamber was generally flooded, but I’m ever optimistic, and there’s not been much rain on Orkney the past couple of weeks (well not much by Orcadian standards anyway!). When I bend down to take a look though it’s clear there is a fair amount of water in the passageway. Some tentative prodding with a nearby twig lets me gauge that there is about a good three inches of water in the interior, certainly high enough to come over my boots, and as I’d have to stoop I’d probably end up with sodden trousers too . It generally takes a lot to deter me on visiting somewhere, but lacking wellingtons, waterproofs a towel or change of clothes, the thought of tramping around for the rest of the day soaked to the skin and slowly becoming hypothermic is enough to stop me today.

I settle instead, like Ubik before me, for shining the torch down the passage to take a look. It’s swathed with ferns which grow along the entranceway, and the light of my torch reflecting off the water does little to drive away the shadows which occlude the chamber. According to the information sign it’s supposed to be a Bookan type of cairn, with compartments set around a central space. Although incredibly adept at dry stone construction, drainage obviously wasn’t the Neolithic Eday folks forte, and it’s frustrating not to be able to go in and check it out, as I’d love to see how similar the lower chamber was to Taversoe Tuick’s, but in the immortal words of Arnie ‘I’ll be back!’

What I am pleased to see is that there is no sign of any of the rubbish as mentioned in Ubik’s fieldnotes, although copious amounts of wool bob about on the water, so obviously sheep aren’t put off entering (or perhaps they just want a bath?). It’s an intriguing place, the entrance passage which seems to lead into the bowels of the earth reminds me a bit of the Rhiw burial chamber, and the placing on the slopes of the hill, with the Vinquoy tomb prominent on the horizon, and the Stone of Setter standing proud to the south, obviously mark this part of the island out as having some special significance.

Huntersquoy is an intriguing site on the Eday Heritage Trail, just don’t expect to get inside without a wetsuit!
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
14th June 2014ce

Huntersquoy (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Huntersquoy</b>Posted by Ravenfeather<b>Huntersquoy</b>Posted by Ravenfeather Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
14th June 2014ce
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