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Staneyhill unHenged idolising Harray

Many thanks to Andrew Appleby, archaeologist-turned-potter, for providing info' additional to his article in "Orkney Today" of August 26th 2010. It is he who found evidence for a stalled cairn that, when brought to the attention of the Henshalls by farmer Yorston, turned out to be the Staney Hill long cairn [I have found that the Lesser Wall of Brodgar is aligned to it through the Lochview standing stone pair]. This cairn is two fields NW of the largest road circuit hereabouts. Between this road and the Nearhouse circuit is the Staney Hill Standing Stone. Bounded by the latter circuit is the site Andrew found and called Henge (in recent years this whole field has been investigated as such by a lad doing an archaeological thesis). Starting in 1977/8 with the observation of a low bank he eventually discovered it to be a ring 150' across with a ditch and bank each of 15' width (BA he said). On subsequent visits he "traced banks leading in an alignment from its circumference." Later Colin Richards and Jane Downes declared it to be a saucer barrow, the largest in the north of Britain. The first thing that brought the Henge field (HY321155) to his attention was finding a small figurine in 1976, which had come from a field with an outlier to the bank. The Whins Wifie [which he also calls the Venus of the Whins or Grimeston Girlie] would seem to be a kind of puppet, using the ?nates to present the figurine in a divine re-enactment or play. It can be made to stand - a puzzle aspect ? Basically the Grimeston Girlie resembles two globs of clay placed together, with two 'dimples' [?buttocks] as the potter's pinches. She is 45mm high with body 32mm wide measuring 30mm to the neck, which varies 21-27mm wide - the 'dimples' are 14mm diameter.
On one of his first visits to Orkney, aged 15, Andrew find a less portable figurine somewhere around the Springfield quarry (HY331158). He showed it to the [pre Anne Brundle] Tankerness House Museum who said they already had many of these, allowing him to keep it. The Springfield Quarryman is slightly asymmetric and measures 38cm high by 5cm thick, from base 26cm to neck which is 8cm wide, eyes 2.5cm wide. It looks like something from Ireland or out of a Danish bog and is properly man-shaped with additionally eyes and nose and perhaps a mouth. Several similar idols have been found in the Harrray tunships of Grimeston and Overbrough. In 1927 the site of Dale (south of the quarry) with its erdhus, long cist etc. was excavated. From the souterrain's causeway came an irregular stone 43cm by a maximum 20cm and 50-75mm thick. It shared a picked groove opposite the broad end with an idol whose dimensions are not given. On a photo in P.S.A.S. 62 it appears as an upper right circle quadrant with very bulging arc and having the head topping the square corner.
In "The Orkney Herald" of October 4th 1933 there is a photo of two idols with heads and another ancient stone, found in a grassy circle on the Brecks of Netherbrough. The December 6th 1933 edition gives further details of the find site and another photo. This place had been until taken into cultivation a few years previous a "peculiar" spot some 40'D having a slightly sunken centre and partly raised circumference. From by the former came a piece of incised oval sandstone 36cm long by maximum width 23cm having a roughly bored hole roughly 25mm across. The sandstone idols were found vertical and projecting a little above the surface at the circle's outer edge. The surfaces were natural and had then had the tops rounded to form the heads. One was 48cm by 36cm and the other 38cm by 33cm.
The second article mentions a similar idol to the two being still in the possession of the Netherbrough farm where it had been found many years before. Another had been found somewhere in Birsay and another on South Ronaldsay. It is possible that this last is confusion with two found at Ronaldshay in Zetland.

wideford Posted by wideford
29th August 2010ce

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