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non-SMR discoveries in Orkney

Being newspaper reports for which I have not located even likely NMRS records.

Birsay May 18th 1881 "The Orkney Herald"

Crouched female skeleton found in peat approx. 3 miles to the east of Dounby, top 2' down and lower part 4' down, clothed partly in fabric similar to that of the Hurtiso hood. The individual was adolescent or pubertal. Most of the chest came away with the material, revealing that non-skeletal remains had turned into a soapy mass.

Blanster Farm, St.Margaret's Hope ND447929 July 18th 1903 "The Orcadian"

Some years previously there were two stone-and-earth burnt mounds on Blanster Farm with blackened earth beneath. From the one in the field where the farm buildings are an inverted clay urn with ashes came from a simple cist.

Brecks of Netherbrough, Harray October 4th & December 6th 1933 "The Orkney Herald"

Until a few years before 1933 there existed a forty-foot grassy circle on the Brecks ['broken' ground] of Netherbrough, bounded by slight bank and having a central depression. Along the outer edge two barely projecting natural sandstone rocks had had their tops fashioned by stone tools into heads in a manner similar to one found in the Dale souterrain in this parish. They stood 19" and 15" high on bases 14" and 13". From near the centre another stone was unearthed that had a rough circular hole about an inch across bored through it. This oval stone measured 14" by 9".

Brockie's Grave, Harray April 24th 1936 "The Orcadian"

North of Lyra Geo in Harray is a ravine called Kellyan Hellyan [Kaellan Helliar]. Going upstream for some hundred yards, about seventy from the top of the crag, brings the writer to a site identified as Brockie's Grave. This comprised seveal 'markstones' he took to mark the head and foot of the grave.

Bu, Faray February 3rd 1938 "The Orcadian"

Sandstone whorl found one foot down in a meadow near the former house-site of the Bu of [North] Faray by the farmer of Lackquoy [HY531367].

Burgh, Westray July 21st 1843 "John O' Groat Journal"

Mr Stewart of Burgh's workmen found the remains of a purse of gold and silver thread containing six 24 carat gold rings, each of tapering width, with a total weight of 814g. A small one appeared crude, some were formed of thick twisted cord, the best ones had a filigree construction. What appeared to be small coins all disintegrated when touched. Tradition had it that an African vessel cast away on Westray and afterwards the captain had often seen to be looking for something.

Burrian (Wasbister), Sandwick May 11th 1892 "The Orkney Herald"

Sometime before 1892 a piece of ?Orphir freestone was found at Burrian. This had the proportion of nine-to-seven and bore five elliptical rings on one side.

Calf of Eday September 23rd 1924 "The Orcadian"

Several mounds in the neighbourhood have on their tops either a single standing stone or two. On September 12th dug up two lying east-west. 18" below top a layer of limpets covering fragments of animal and bird bones bones and deer horn, then 2' down a layer of flat stones. There was a sand layer below the sub-soil. No other finds made.

Cauldhame, Stromness July 3rd 1912 "The Orkney Herald"

Box found cutting peats beneath layers of peat and turf and sand, the last 3" thick. All layers undisturbed. Decayed oak box lay roughly N/S in second peat layer and measured 14½" x 5 5/8" x 6". This included : broken jet armlet, bronze/brass bore with fir sheath, walnut shell, small pierced fir panel. worn brass/bronze blade, fir knitting pins, section of ?oak bowl.

Cavit, Wyre April 10th 1886 "The Orcadian"

A long cist found on Cavit farm below a hard clay level, only a few inches of earth above the 4' by 2'3" coverstone. Five thinner slabs, including a floor, made up the 3' x 18" x 18" cavity under this. The ends placed inside the sides provided solidity but all that they found inside was several inches of mud and water. The cist sat on a clay surface. A similar structure had been found a few yards distant four or five decades before, the difference being the peat at that spot.

Corse Farm, St.Ola March 17th 1938 "The Orcadian"

Stone cist uncovered by tractor held a single adult skeleton. As this had been forced into a space only 2'*8' by 15" it was believed that this was a re-internment. Corse had once been a pilgrimage station [perhaps the cross lay at Little Corse rather than the Bu farm ??]. The Orkney Antiquarian Society were informed.

Established Church Manse, South Ronaldsay August 21st 1866 "The Orcadian"

Digging for office house foundations near the Established Church manse uncovered a skeleton 2-3' down, but 5-6' of mound material had been removed prior to this. This was an adult male adjuged to have been six feet tall. This area 20-30 yrds from the shore had been under cultivation for almost a century

Evie August 31st 1939 "The Orcadian"

A gentleman from Gallowhall found a 4" water-warn stone in an Evie knowe that had a crude horse sculpted one side and two concentric rings on the other. The larger ring measured roughly 1½" and the inner about half that. This object was being forwarded for examination to the Liverpool Museum director who was in Stromness at the time.

Fairyhowe, Harray January 17th 1923 "The Orkney Herald" & November 29th 1923 "The Orcadian"

Fairyhowe was traditionally a heap of small stones which had been contributed by members of St. Magnus cortège as they stopped between Appiehouse and the Slap of Harray.

Firth's Park, South End, Stromness May 3rd 1911 "The Orkney Herald"

Sandstone cist found in digging house foundations for W.S.Baikie on a steep eminence at ~80' O.D., aligned NNE/SSW with one end under his north boundary wall. This sat on a thick layer of reddish sand that ran about a foot below the present ground surface. It measured 21" wide by 2' deep and had unequal sides, 3'10" on the west 3'2" on the east side. The large coverstone was 3" thick, the bottom formed by a slab and smaller flat stones had under it a 4" long cylindrical water-worn stone. J.W.Cursiter found a female skeleton inside lying on its right, limbs doubled-up in front and small head at the north. The body had been laid to rest clothed by a vegetable textile with parallel lines roughly 1½" apart, whilst the head appeared to be covered by wood or bark.

Garth, Harray ? near HY31NW 56 June 23rd 1894 "The Orcadian"

Workmen making a road slightly west of Garth house in Harray found two graves. The larger was a cist 4'6" long and roughly a square yard in cross-section. Not far away from these an urn was also found.

Garth, Nettleter, Harray November 8th 1893 & July 12th 1894 "The Orkney Herald"

Twin 6' diameter underground chambers found in Stead-in-groe field, roughly 300 tards NE of the Broch of Netletar, connected by a 3' long passage 2' wide and 3'-3'6" deep, roofed by large stones on uprights. On the southern chamber's west side a large heavy slab covered an area of mostly earth roughly 3'3" square the bottom foot of which comprised sticky ashes of a lighter colour. From this recess a 'soot'-lined opening rose westwards 4' to where it ended at an edgeset stone just below present ground level [not un-reminiscent of the Crantit souterrain's 'fireplace']. Here there had been a deposit of earth and stones. Less trace of burning was found in the northern chamber. Its usage etc. was thought to be similar to the Trettigar site [described later in this 'blog'].

Gornside, Sanday August 23rd 1858 "The Orcadian"

One or two urns with burnt bones and ashes found a few years previously in Gornside field, Stove hill.

Grainshore, Kirkwall March 7th 1914 "The Orcadian"

A stone 'coffin' lacking one end and a side slab uncovered by the sea at Grainshore. This was sharply defined, being almost opposite the first entrance beyond the Oyce [tidal inlet].

Groatster/Grotsetter, Tankerness May 5th 1938 & August 29th 1946 "The Orcadian"

Over ten years previously a 'Pictish' grave had been found on hill-land belonging to Groatster farm and [the 'treasure' from] this cist inspired the Hawell farmer's dig.

Harray December 1st 1927 "The Orcadian"

About three miles from Dale in Harray the writer found a small stone like two from the Dale souterrain, a semi-circle cut into the straight side.

Harray June 24th 1937 "The Orcadian"

Grey granite hammerstone found by gentleman from Hindatown when digging Harray peats being given to Stromness Museum. Broken at 7/8" perforation, remaining 2" long part being 1¾" wide there, and showing evidence of use.

Harray August 15th 1940 "The Orcadian"

George Isbister giving his Harray flint collection to museum. Nine scrapers, four perfect arrowheads (one 27 x 15mm of yellowish colour, one carved), one 75 x 60mm worked round stone fitting into hand and having 20mm deep hollow.

Highbreck, Orphir February 11th 1891 "The Orkney Herald"

In trenching new ground short cist with burnt bone found initially, then a few days later a broken middle-Viking urn (mended by ties) ten paces away, these both on heathery southern slope 120 yards from main road (NW of Smoogro and ENE of Highbreck). The latter came from under a large flat stone and had filled with earth and clay. This steatite urn had a clay-slate bottom and measured roughly 16" high by 15" wide, being much broken. From an inch thick rim it invreased in thickness to about two near the bottom.. Roughly thrre inches from the top there was an external moulding about half-an-inch thick.
Crcular fort, between these finds and the main road, produced part of grooved saddle quern and two clubs in previous year.

Hoy Churchyard April 12th & 19th 1884 "The Orcadian"

The previous summer a horizontal line with marks on both sides having been uncovered on the edge of a tombstone and a rubbing taken this had been seen as an Ogham inscription. Several professors having managed a tentative translation one even determined which Irish text this had been quoted from. In the next edition of the paper a local asserted that the marks simply arose from the sharpening of his scythe, and nothing further is recorded.

Ingsay, Birsay May 26th 1894 "The Orcadian"

Ploughing on this farm struck a stone under which there was a crouched medium size skeleton on its side and covered by coarse material. The grave was roughly three feet long in an area a long time cultivated.

Kettlun, Stromness October 14th 1937 "The Orcadian"

The name of a former farm between Congesquoy and Feawell where ashes were still being found.

Kirk Knowe, Deerness September 17th 1936 "The Orcadian"

Traditional church site above rocky ridge [? Cullya Blade/Blet] at the Ebb of Oyce, carved red sandstone blocks found by farmer in digging highest point around bay in the NW of Deerness. The associated bishop dwelt at Kirbuster to the south.

Kirkwall (Mill Street) February 3rd 1932 "The Orkney Herald"

When an 130-year-old house was taken down at the corner of Mill Street and King Street large blocks of inscribed red and yellow sandstone were found. The carvings resembled material from St.Magnus Cathedral and were thought to be ecclesiastical. These appeared to be old tombstones and one bore a date of 1615.

Knitchen Hill, Rousay HY429287 July 7th 1921 "The Orcadian"

Spear ?affixed to shield found near the top of hill at the bottom of the moss whilst peat-digging by the 'road'. The iron-headed spear measured approximately 5'6" by 1 1/8", the much decomposed shield a 20" by 24" oval probably of hide. A similar shield as poorly preserved found nearby a few years before differed in being circular, with the edge doubled over, and having iron studs placed centrally.

knowe of Bulic, Stenness October 14th 1908 "The Orkney Herald"

Stone tools and arrowheads found in this mound

knowes of Gimmes' Howe, Stenness September 28th 1939 "The Orcadian"

Prehistoric buildings standing by the shore of Cumminess Farm [probably including Corn Hillock]

Knowe of Huanan, Harray HY320173 March 3rd 1921 "The Orcadian"

Cremation recently found near Bridge of Brennanea in excavation of mound [near old Post Office].

Knowes of Broidgar, Stenness - various Brodgar mounds September 16th 1879 "The Orkney Herald" July 14th 1883 & October 16th 1888 "The Orcadian"

Traces of several tumuli near northern end of "Bridge of Broigar" and a linear earth-and-stone mound with several foundation holes but only two or three stones projecting. Latter possibly forming an avenue in line leading to numerous small stones in the loch nearby that have been brought from elsewhere.

One of several mounds around the Ring of Brodgar, almost all dug into at some time, opened up. This small untouched heather-covered mound had light brown soil under 6" of peat. Removing several large stones at the 2'6" level revealed numerous fragmented bones in a dark ashy earth matrix laying on a clay bed. Largest bone piece only 2" in length.

Loch of Bosquoy September 29th 1863 "The Orcadian"

On high section of loch bank about a foot down 5'4" ?female crouched inhumation found in grave examined then put back. Body lying on right side with much spinal curvature. Grave roughly 3'10" long about 2'6" deep and wide, with flagstone at side and head, "built" at foot [i.e. walling] and having single coverstone.

Lyking, Sandwick May 11th 1892 "The Orkney Herald"

Some seven decades previously large stones lying on pillars at the dyke-end of Lyking were held to be left-overs from the building of the Ring of Brodgar.

Lyradale Hill May 17th 1882 "The Orkney Herald" & May 20th 1882 "The Orcadian"

Two well preserved skeletons found stretched out alongside each other the previous Wednesday under three feet of peat, the bones black and pliant. Locals connected these with nearby Battle of BigswellSummerdale of 1529.

meadow of Selwick, West Mainland January 5th 1907 "The Orcadian"

Large dense ferruginous clay pot, similar to those used for boiling, found 25 years previously during drainage work.

Moss of Quothlan, Sandwick January 18th 1912 "The Orcadian"

On Tuesday probable bow portion found lying horizontal over two yards deep in peat. Wood strip 3' long and ½" thick with maximum width of over 1" tapering to round knot at one end.

Mull Head, Deerness December 1st 1927 "The Orcadian"

Tiny flint arrowhead found near "Moul Head ".

Newhouse, Dounby, Harray HY305212 November 21st 1940 "The Orcadian"

Well used oblate granite hammer, 2¾" by 2¼", found near "steeth" of old buildings.

Newhouse, Quholm, Stromness HY248130 December 14th 1933 "The Orcadian"

Well-used dark dense lemon-shaped stone ball, 3" by 2½", found in Meadow of [Newhouse/Quholm] . Crude cross at one end and several pinholes indicating subjection to fire at some stage. Came from close to where John Spence found one of Dr.Gill's "witch's box" (containing several items) about 30 years before.

North Ronaldsay is Burrian Castle November 8th 1879 "The Orcadian"

In a Rhind Lecture mention is made of a large collection of tools etc. found at the bottom of a ruined tower, especially a smaller version of the Birsay bell, being 2¼" high with a mouth 2" x 1", ?bronze-coated of thin metal sheet rivetted up one side. Another item was a stone with an early Celtic cross and an oxbone engraved.

Papdale Burn September 11th 1869 "The Orcadian"

In the course of sanitation works [early mediaeval] coins found, one of 1079 with the phrase "Nemo me impune lacasset".

Powdykes, Westray HY434*436* July 22nd 1948 "The Orcadian"

Grey silicious sandstone axehead found in digging heathland, polished tapered oval 3" long 2 to ½" wide.

Quoybirst, Westray February 22nd 1940 "The Orcadian"

Package of 33 flints, 28 reddish and rest grayish, sent by J.M.Bews for Stromness Museum. One of the two or three arrowheads, a thin red flake 27 by 18mm, resembled a lozenge arrowhead from the Yorkshire Wolds in an 1897 book called "Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain". The rest of the collection comprised scrapers and other flints.

The Sailor's Headstone, Flotta ~ND343927 March 15th 1914 "The Orkney Herald" & May 4th 1916 "The Orcadian"

A grey stone standing near the shore on the Pentland Firth side of Flotta slightly SE of the Point of Warth, deeply sunk in the ground, having a rounded top and levelled sides. The associated 'grave' is a very slight mound with the 'foot' end pointing SW. The stone looks to the channel between the island of Switha and South Walls.

Saville Stone, Sanday June 22nd & August 24th 1939 "The Orcadian"

Also known as the Stone o' Scar, this 20 ton spherical erratic was moved to its present small enclosure near Scar house from Saville farmhouse by a Col.Harwood. A local recalled an original name of the Hegelabar Stone used when he was young.

Scapa July 15th 1853 "John O' Groat Journal"

Tumulus excavated lately on Scalpa [sic] farm of Walter Sinclair. At depth of some seven feet a double cist, aligned E/W and measuring 6' by 2½' by 3' deep, came to light. A thick flagstone covered each compartment and others formed the sides. Inside were numerous bone and very decomposed animal remains.

South Aittit, Rendall May 6th 1926 "The Orcadian"

Water-worn oval whinstone of exactly 2lb weight retrieved from a mound given to Stromness Museum. Grooved around edge (for a cord ?) with a short groove across one end, and measuring 6½" long 4½"across 2½" thick.

South Heddle, Firth HY353120 April 25th 1928 "The Orkney Herald" & December 6th 1928 "The Orcadian"

During repairs a passage found running obliquely across a road through bedrock, being 24' long and in cross-section 26" by 17". This being blocked at the inner end (only the first four completely cleared by the owner) another hole was dug, which again encountered heavy lintels [the only mention of lintels]. It was intended to do a complete excavation. But in December "The Orcadian" writer is of the opinion that the passage seemed to be natural..

Stenness tumuli August 1839 "The Orkney and Shetland Journal and Fisherman's Magazine" & August 18th 1854 "John O' Groat Journal"

Annual Report to the Orkney Natural History Society mentions smal circular ornament and tusk from a Stenness tumulus.

Cist with burnt bones found in smaller tumulus or one each in two such.

Stonepark, St.Margaret's Hope ~ND443932 July 18th 1903 "The Orcadian"

Some years previously there were two stone-and-earth burnt mounds on Blanster Farm with blackened earth beneath. The one near Stonepark held several simple cists.

Stove, Sanday August 23rd 1858 "The Orcadian"

Stove Hill has many mounds and treb dykes. Two graves found on rising ground on part of Stove hill near Whippiland [Whupland ?], in marshy valley where there is a mound. Barely below the surface, these contained fresh-looking childrens bones, but by the time of the writer's visit the smaller of the two cists had been destroyed. The surviving one measured :- coverstone almost 4' long by nearly 22" across ; N end 13", E side 3', S end 18½", W side 2'4" ; depth 15". The end flags were set within those at the sides and that at the north appeared hammer dressed.

Tormiston Farm, Stenness HY320125 December 30th 1948 "The Orcadian"

Two reddish baked clay objects, probably loom weights, unearthed. Both showed signs of wear. First a 1 5/8" thick holed disc 4¾" across. The second, with two holes an inch apart, resembled a swill used to keep sheep tethers straight and measured almost 5" by 2¼" by 1¾".

Trettigar, Harray ~HY317188 August 9th & November 8th 1893 "The Orkney Herald"

Underground structure found digging a lea field in Feb 1892, coverstone a foot deep hoiked off large chamber with crowbar. Probable burial site an E/W aligned oval chamber some 17' by 6' and roughly 5½' deep. Principal components were three irregular slabs extending past the walls to rest on soil, with the largest of these being 6" thick and going both sides over 2/3 the length. The other two met in the centre, where a fourth stone bridged the gap, at which point a tapered erect stone provided support. All four were fire marked. This roof sloped gently N and W in line with the ground above. The earthen walls had small stones placed to cover remaining gaps and were themselves held in place by further stones. Removal of the contents revealed a foot of black ashy matter over two foot of a sticky yellowish substance, and amongst these two uniform layers were small burnt stones that elsewhere levelled the floor. Teo halves of a crude stone hammer or mall came up with the ashes. This was given to the Orkney Natural History Society.

Thought to have had a similar function to the Garth, Nettleter structure above

Trimmigarth/Trinnigarth, Sandwick HY257176 February 3rd 1909 "The Orkney Herald"

At a depth of 18" the plough opened a ten foot oval hole, 5' deep, off which ran two barely passable passages in opposite directions.No stone or walling was found. At some time previously a cow broke into another hole roughly a hundred yards away in line with one passage. Here small dents were said to be the result of lightning strikes [the tubes called fulgarites are formed in loose sand and the longest recorded is only 6m long]. An old smithy site was discovered hereabouts. .

Trowie Glen, Hoy July 6th 1901 "The Orcadian"

The bottom of this valley near the Dwarfie Stane has small orthostats, locally named lintlics, that are held to mark graves.

Wasdale, Firth November 6th duplicated 13th 1880 "The Orcadian"

Farmer finds two graves :- one a 2' by 1' 6" by 15" stone cist with clay seams (with six stones over the covering stone equal to its size) containing 2-3" of ash and much decayed bone below a fine earth layer reaching to the top, the other a plain square hole which held bones and ashes and some hair.

West Quoy, Orphir December 11th 1866 "The Orkney Herald"

Ploughing of cultivated field.hits a flag cist containing two skeletons lying "heads and thraws".

The Wheeling Cross, Rendall HY4119 December 26th 1946 "The Orcadian"

These stones marked the halting spot for coffins from outlying districts of the parish en route to the Gorseness kirkyard at the shore, lying by the upper side of the burial road where a flat section crosses the SW slope of Gorseness Hill. The overgrown quarry for the stone is nearby. At some time the stones positions have been altered, being no longer cross shaped. There are three or four small stones next to two triangular stones over 9" thick and a yard on each side.

Wideford Hill March 1st 1864 "The Orcadian"

Drainage works on a new Wideford Hill farm revealed a large coverstone in the cut with cells beneath. A roughly 2½' long 2' wide central passage, blocked with stones at the northern end, ran NNW/SSE The southern end widened out, opening into two chambers in opposite directions, the southern one with a floor 4" above both the northern one and the passage. Edge-set slabs form the sides and ends of the northern chamber, which measures 4" by 2½" and some 2'2" high and has a reduced entrance some 2½' across . Except for one edge-set slab at the back the southern chamber is of walling, and it measures 3½" by 2'10" by 2' and the passage enters directly into it. George Petrie took measurements and made a plan of it. Nothing marked the site on the surface.

wideford Posted by wideford
17th February 2008ce
Edited 6th March 2008ce

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