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All the years that I have been in Orkney of all the major sites to look at I had never been to the Knowe of Onston, despite its lying alongside the main road just short of the Brig o'Waithe. Somehow it looked insignificant and also I was put off by the thought of crawling through some damp passage. Then I saw a photo of the inside on a website and was surprised by the light and space. So one weekend two weeks later I finally paid homage to the Unstan Tomb, finding it to be just as the photo showed. Such a contrast to the Cuween Hill Cairn: there really was a short crawl, here more a shambling crouch, there the main compartment only fairly visible with a lantern, here apart (alas) for the side-chamber it was as if you were out in the open. The place is refreshing to look at. A couple visiting at the time were impressed by the use of red sandstone slabs.

Also travelled the length of the road in Orphir upon which lie the Bu and the Round Church. 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 of apparently crescentic shape that wasn't shown on my map (and nothing later showing on CANMAP). Perhaps, big as it was, it was only a modern spoilheap. But it lies in splendid isolation. Going round another corner also on the right the other side of the wall was what looked like a quarry except it looks more as if a large scoop of earth had been taken by some giant's hand. It may be fanciful of me to see a connection between mound and scoop.
Back to another journey, only along what I call the 50-50 road but is actually the Germiston Road to Orphir. Shortly after it leaves the main road (on the other side you look across to Lower Hobbister) there is a mound on the left that does not appear on the archaeological map even though there are traces of excavation trenches. A stream lies a short distance fom its left-side and is stone-lined. You can imagine that the mound's creators are responsible for this too only the large blocks seem more like bedrock. Wholly natural or adapted to form some outer ditch? Whatever it really is I reccomend it to anyone that likes the revealed interplay between rock and water.

wideford Posted by wideford
28th January 2004ce
Edited 14th July 2004ce

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