Map Orkney Month Week 1: Ponies, pearls and pancakes at Purtabreck

Jo Inkster: Rousay 01/03

A typical Sunday on the farm for this time of year. Cattle feeding duties followed by a wet and windy hack out on my favourite horse Storm. Rode out to the Westside of Rousay and my Waypoint picture is taken looking out over Quandale (site of the General Burrow’s Clearances) towards the Mainland. The rest of my day was spent with more cattle feeding, a quick dog walk and some work in the workshop.

Chris Gee: Firth 01/03

On Sunday afternoon we set off on our regular Sunday outing. This time we decided to go up the track into the Firth hills to the west of Holland Farm. We have been there a number of times before over the years. On the walk up the track you can see the bedrock exposed and there are what seem to be small stone quarries at the side – probably 19th century in date. The boys have fun pushing each other into the tussacks along the banks while I stare out towards Redland and the sky. We saw a double rainbow on the way up this time.

The first official stop is a small gully formed by the Burn o Geo. Here the boys have made up a game called “level one hundred”. It involves climbing along the steep heathery banks as far as possible without sliding down into the (very shallow) burn. Up stream someone has built a couple of little bridges that are good to go under. Dams are easy to make with the flagstones. The torrent released when the dam is opened quickly can carry turf divets and toy boats far down the rapids.

 

At the edge of the burn on the shoulder of a natural terrace sits a large circular, flat topped mound (NMR number HY31NE 17). Raymond Lamb – onetime County Archaeologist – suggested that it might have been either a burial mound or a burnt mound. There is some indication of an old water channel leading from the burn higher upstream around the other side of the mound as if the water could once have been diverted towards it. And even further upstream a couple of years ago we found what seems to be a dam and pond. If the mound is indeed a burnt mound then the supply of water to it would have been of prime importance. Burnt mounds usually surround or cover a water tank which was heated up using hot stones (which then eventually form the burnt mound).

Even though the boys had wet feet and their spare gloves were a bit thin we continued further up the track. On the journey we spoke about the frog that we had seen a couple of years before at a particular point, I remembered a bit of haematite I had found. It’s interesting how a piece of landscape can seem to hold memories and stories. Looking out towards Redland I remembered Eoin Scott and stories he had told me years ago about buildings there. If you could see all the stories and memories of everyone through the ages impressed on the landscape it would be very full I’m sure.

We walked as far as the old peat track above the Hammars of Syradale, into the Parish of Harray I think. There’s supposed to be a fairy’s pool in the rocks there, I was told. There is a spectacular view over the Harray and Stenness Lochs towards Hoy at this point. People used to walk up the dale to the hamars and carve their names in stone Sundays once. Sometimes it’s hard to separate these Sunday walks in time.

 Sarah Gee: South Ronaldsay and Mainland 01/03

This GPS trail for 01.03.15 shows a re-visit to the mainland locations for an installation work undertaken in 2012 (title: RePlace Orkney https://hegasaer.wordpress.com/). Without actually ending up at the installation sites themselves, we travelled to a point near the northernmost (Brough of Birsay) and then traversed the Mainland taking in locations at the Ring of Brodgar, Ness of Brodgar and Wideford Hill, before driving to the nearest parking spot to the Balfour Battery, which was the southernmost installation site (where I was interviewed for BBC Radio Orkney: Tulliementan by Fion, in May 2012).

In the time available I could not visit my installation’s westernmost (Hoy) or easternmost (North Ronaldsay) locations, but it was brilliant to have a beautiful day and great companions for a nostalgic trip. And we did manage a somewhat potholey experience to visit Shunan Loch to see a Blue-winged Teal!

Fabulous day, beautiful weather. Magic place.

 Rosey Priestman & Brendan Colvert: Sanday 01/03

Helga Tulloch: North Ronaldsay 04/03

Isabella and I went out between planes to feed the sheep at Cruesbreck and hens at Verracott, pick up a dehumidifier and managed to fit in a walk round the West Beach and pancakes at Purtabreck.

Site record for the hen house at Verracott is 59 22 30 north/02 25 39 west.

Jane: Kirkwall 04/03

Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall – I just love this place. I often wonder what it looked like before the roof was taken off. I know that it doesn’t have the best history, but it is still a magnificent building. I always wanted to live near a castle when I was younger (which clearly wasn’t going to happen to someone who lived in Australia) but now at least I can say I do live near a couple of palaces at least! I also love the rooks that are usually sitting in the trees in the palace grounds – it’s like they are holding meetings there when they talk to each other, so I have included a photo of them too.

 

St Olaf’s Kirk archway – I like the archway because of its connection to the naming of Kirkwall. If it wasn’t there, then the town wouldn’t ever have been named Kirkjuvagr (Church Bay) which over the years has changed to Kirkwall. Also the name St Olaf shows the connection of Orkney with the Norse, so for me this is also interesting because I study the Vikings.

Kirkwall Harbour – I feel the harbour is very important to Orkney as a whole as islands rely on the sea so much. It’s always so busy where the ferries come in too, connecting Kirkwall to the rest of Orkney (so I have included Earls Thorfinn and Sigurd ferries in the photos).

Map Orkney Month map so far:

More contributions from Week 1 to follow…

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4 thoughts on “Map Orkney Month Week 1: Ponies, pearls and pancakes at Purtabreck

  1. Pingback: Map Orkney Month Week 3: Groatee buckies, budgies and re-forming the pearl | Public Archaeology 2015

  2. Pingback: Mapping Moberg | The Gunnie Moberg Archive

  3. Pingback: Map Orkney Month mapping workshop at Stromness Community Garden, Sunday 15th | Stromness Community Garden

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