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Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork

<b>Saverock</b>Posted by widefordImage © wideford
Also known as:
  • Burn of Hatston

Nearest Town:Kirkwall (3km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   HY437130 / Sheet: 6
Latitude:59° 0' 2.21" N
Longitude:   2° 58' 48.28" W

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Saverock Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia

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<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford <b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford


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At last I saw the other side of the 'bridge' where the burn meets the coast. It is quite magnificent, the aspect megalithic shining through. If it were not for the timbers I would have no hesitation in saying it is Iron Age at the latest. This side on the left of the waterway there is something reminiscent of a guard cell 1.2x0.8x0.9m beneath the 'bridge', but only having two sides it is more of a full-height niche I suppose. Shoreside the passage is 1.2x1.1m, the walling either side extends 1.3m and it is possible there is a RH projection from the base of 1.8m (including beyond the tumble a stone 1m long). There is much rubble of varying ages to the sides, in front of the passage the water makes a small but deep pool which could well indicate an old ground level or simply the original stream bed's continuance.
Could it be that the timbers were inserted later to make the crossing level, possibly at the same time the area between the two sections of burn was covered over ? Though it could be the remains of a sea-wall sluice, grander and in better preservation than the one downstream of Tankerness Mill, the size of the bridging roof stones does incline me to see this as re-use (the sluices shown on the map below the main road are purely modern as it turns out).
wideford Posted by wideford
12th October 2004ce

Went further down the Burn of Hatston (which flows over bedrock throughout its length) and found more water furniture where it greets the sea (HY43511300). Here the burn is ?deeper/wider and is bridged by two immense slabs (the nearer 2.2x0.4x0.25m, the furthest 2.5x0.8x0.3m ) with a reasonable 2.8m gap in between . On the right-hand side a lovely white drystane wall lines the burn but on the other side there is nothing but a few sandy stones in the bank until the bridge is reached (though a finger of sod and earth about the height of the wall projects out into the burn from it). Passing strange. The remains of a few large timbers can be seen betwixt and between the slabs and the bridge is wall-lined either side. Couldn't get past the barb-wire fence to view it from the shore, and though the waters were low enough to walk under the bridge I could not risk slipping on the bedrock as I was on my own. It is 0.9m between the bridge walls, they are 1m high but the bedrock that the bridge sits on accounts for 0.2m of that on the left.
All told I wonder if this is the remains of a sea-wall sluice, grander and in better preservation than the one downstream of Tankerness Mill. In which case maybe the 'structure' upstream here is what Click Mill looked like before it was rebuilt in the 19th century ?? Which, unfortunately, though it further confirms the importance of the Burn of Hatston area would put the burnside furniture outwith TMA's remit. But a later visit shows the main body of the bridge precedes the possibly early industrial features.
wideford Posted by wideford
24th June 2004ce
Edited 12th October 2004ce

Before leaving Kirkwall as you reach the Hatston Industrial Estate junction take the lower road till you reach the turnoff for the new pier. Beyond you see a field fence on the same side. Walk towards it and you'll see the burn going down to the shore which you now follow. It is very rough pasture with hidden holes and barely buried bits of woodwork along the way. The burn at this the beginning points straight at the middle of a mound. Saverock burnt mound is RCAHMS NMRS record no. HY41SW6 at HY43481280. About 20m away from the edge of the mound the burn turns slightly to the left.
What you come to is a grassy mound a couple of metres high. No features at all (though apparently it is a channel cut across the top that revealed the burnt material). RCAHMS say it is a wonder how it survives so untouched in this area, so we shouldn't grumble really. From the top I could make out a slight small ditch about the mound but felt it to be a modern development.
So what took my fancy was a set of features at the point where the burn takes a turn (HY43461277), date unknown. Most of the way from Yairsay the Burn of Hatston is lined by drystane walls, no sign of a break apart from the bridge below Yairstay. But here it does intriguing things. About 9m down from a wide turf-covered bridge a slab of stone bridges the water (is it a clapper bridge?), near the top of the walls and inset to their sides. It lays horizontally and I wonder if this is how the slab at Burn of Swannay once lay too. A metre past this the right wall turns at a right angles, straight until the end curved round a little. About 4.5-5m further on it is mirrored, except that this wall goes across the water as another wide turf-covered bridge, though of better construction than the first. Hereabouts the walls are thicker than elsewhere, for opposite where the first wall turn is lies a wall inset about 1.3m long, and this is set half-way back into the wall a scant few courses above the stream. Even though there is a chunk of concrete between the wall-turns the arrangement is definitely original with the drystane walling. On a later visit I found another place, further upstream, where there is a similar 'crossroad' of wall.
Down from the mound, almost at the shore, was Saverock Souterrain (HY43681296, HY41SW 5), that Petrie had down as a broch. And the Hatston Airfield Souterrain (HY43621238, HY41SW 3) wasn't too far away. So obviously this area has always been important.
Look from here in the direction of Finstown and the long arm of land includes the site of the Crossietown Neolithic settlement and recently excavated Ramberry chambered cairn (HY42401363, gone). Though it seems to hold watch over the Bay of Kirkwall there was no broch there (Ingshowe lies further towards Finstown). But unseen around the hill Quanterness did have a roundhouse, so perhaps this explains the lack ?
wideford Posted by wideford
25th May 2004ce
Edited 28th August 2005ce


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In the 1860's there were several cists of stone 'destroyed' in a field belonging to Saverock. These have been associated with the modern Saverock, perhaps the lost mound HY41SW 7, but could these have been from the Saverock Burnt Mound like with Howe Harcus (Mussaquoy) ? In 1882 farmer Mr Fergus found a white quartz axe, 5 5/8 ins long by 2 1/4 ins broad and 1 5/8 ins thick, sticking half out the ground in the same field. A few feet away was a perforated granite hammerhead. Local antiquarians later found nearby a polished granite axe butt, several rough stone hammers and a stone mortar, along with flint chips and ornamented potsherds - the Hunterian Museum has from here an arrowhead and seven scrapers, a couple of rubbing stones [one possibly a polisher], an ornamental vessel and two potsherds wideford Posted by wideford
24th November 2008ce
Edited 25th November 2008ce

The souterrain was excavated in the winter of 1848-9 by a Captain and his men, aided by George Petrie. CANMAP looks in error as the 20-30' seacliff is up by the new pier rather than at where (Lower) Saverock farmhouse used to be. Petrie locates it at the sea cliff and close enough that he believed one arm once continued to the edge. In 1860 he found rude firebaked clay pottery fragments in the cliff debris (he may have visited other times as the published reports do not mention the bird's claw bronze fragment he found in the souterrain wall, or indeed any metal). His reasons for initially suspecting a broch were that the souterrain lay in a large mound bigger than any of such type he found as of 1860 and that there were "traces of a great mass of building above and around it" (Wilson says material had been used "for building a neighbouring farm-house and offices" before the Captain came - although the Name Book refers to a square ecclesiastical bell being found here this is surely an error for Saevar Howe). In the published article he amended this to "a burg or other superstructure" - one is reminded of the settlement suggested by Baillin-Smith for the area around the Grainbank earth-houses not far away [and those found in WWII building Hatston aerodrome]. wideford Posted by wideford
28th August 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2008ce

An 1882 map shows the Saverock souterrain to have been on a place called Lower Saverock. It shows two sluices on the Burn of Hatston between the main road and the road through the bottom of the industrial estate, but from the latter to the shore only a straight fence line is shown i.e. no sign of the structures that I have noted (though it does make the second more likely to have been used as a sluice gate for the final section of the burn). wideford Posted by wideford
23rd September 2004ce

Latest posts for Saverock

Showing 1-10 of 11 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Saverock (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia) — Fieldnotes

The burnt mound is on the LH side of the road onto the new Hatston pier amongst the new industrial development. Unfortunately it is now fully enclosed by a fence with not even a gate for access. An opportunity for excavation missed. wideford Posted by wideford
16th May 2012ce

Saverock (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford wideford Posted by wideford
11th November 2008ce

Saverock (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia) — Fieldnotes

This last week I have taken new digital images used my SLR (slide film not used up yet) and a mini-DV camcorder to record various features in this area [including a ?land-drain which ends partway down the cliff with six foot depth of narrow drystone wall forming its top]. Coincidentally it has been announced today that the land between Hatston pier [read Lower Saverock] and the main road is being taken into development. To do this they have also bought "a field on the Finstown side". Presumably not disturbing archaeology ?
The conglomerate/puddlestone on the burnt mound's uphill side is becoming buried, probably by the same over-vigorous machining that has further eroded the top. More of the small stones, mostly burnt [though some slightly larger pieces may have been shiny once] are showing now. But more interestingly the polished dark tops of possibly square stones are presently coming level with the surface, and these seem to have some kind of order to them. I managed to get my fingers two or three inches down the side of one without finding a base, though it is too early to be talking of pillars yet. On the top at the Finstown side I'm sure there is some kind of ridge - evidence for a wall beneath or simply a by-product of early digs ? I am reminded a little of the Hawell burnt mound.
wideford Posted by wideford
10th November 2008ce

The field has passed into active cultivation. The tractor has gone a little up the side of the mound, exposing more material but nothing significantly different. However, this is how erosion starts. The upright stone at the edge facing the main road seems to have gone, it may have been World War stuff but I still hope it is merely hidden by summer vegetation. wideford Posted by wideford
24th July 2006ce

Saverock (Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia) — Images

<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford<b>Saverock</b>Posted by wideford wideford Posted by wideford
12th April 2006ce
Showing 1-10 of 11 posts. Most recent first | Next 10