Dounby Click Mill

Orkney, Scotland. Days 26, 24th July.

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“Welcome to Evil Village.  Please drive carefully.”

The two young couples thought they were making good time when their car shuddered to a halt as they were passing the village.  They went to seek assistance at a nearby house and the front door was open so they went in.  There was hardly any furniture and the rooms seemed to belong to a bygone age.  Then they heard the front door closing and locking behind them.  It was getting darker.  The strange noises were getting closer….

No, hold on, it’s not Evil Village and we’re not in a Hammer horror movie from the 70s.  It’s Evie village in a rustic corner of Orkney where the locals are likely to be friendly and bad things are unlikely to happen to strangers.  The next three images are in Evie Village.

 

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My accommodation wasn’t far away but I wasn’t staying here.  Probably quite cheap budget accommodation though, with light and airy rooms.

 

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Here’s another potentially fetching place to stay, still with the original slate roof.  Very conveniently right on the main road.  Maybe I should be starting a real estate blog.

 

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A group of farm buildings beside the road, some maybe hundreds of years old, including the shed above.

 

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A few miles away, here is the signpost to the click mill, with a picturesque ruined farmhouse behind it.  In Orkney and in Northern Scotland generally, ruins like this are fairly common.

 

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This is the click mill.  It is a horizontal click mill, so called because the blades the water turns to drive the grinding are horizontal.  It probably dates from the early nineteenth century and was renovated in 1932.  The flour it produced would only have supported a couple of families at most.

The door is the opening at the left.  Water from the stream the mill sits beside was diverted behind it and came out through the chamber at the right.

 

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Inside the mill, here is the grinding mechanism and in front of it a large wooden box to collect the ground flour.

 

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Underneath the grinding mechanism, this is where the water comes through to turn the horizontal blades and grind the grain.

 

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The cereal most commonly used in this click mill would have been bere, a type of barley with four rows of grains instead of the usual two.

The term “click mill” comes from the projecting peg where the grain comes down from the feeder, that clicks away a little at a time to feed a small continuous amount of grain into the central hole of the grinding disk.

Standing Stones and a Chambered Tomb

Orkney, Scotland. Days 24 and 25, 22nd and 23rd July.

In the West of Mainland in Orkney, on a spit of land between two lakes, is a remarkable array of megalithic monuments and settlements. We will briefly look at the Stones of Stenness, Maes Howe, the Ness of Brodgar and the Ring of Brodgar.

 

the Stones of Stenness

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I appear to have discovered the original reason for building the Stones of Stenness, that no other sources have remarked on. They are clearly intended so that sheep can rub their backs against them.

 

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The Stones of Stenness form one of the earliest stone circles in Britain, at 5,000 years old. Originally there were eleven with an unused place for a twelfth and they are up to six metres high. There were five different kinds of stones used and it appears that the stones came from all around the island. There are only four stones now, plus a few smaller ones. In 1907 the horizontal slab beside the small stones was mistakenly reconstructed on top of those stones as a dolmen (a small megalithic tomb). It was placed on the ground again in the 1970s. A wide water-filled ditch surrounded the circle with one causeway entrance. There was also a hearth at the centre of the circle.

 

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There is a recently discovered neolithic farm settlement about 200 metres away and a nearby mound is thought to be a broch. There was a magnificent stone called the Odin Stone not far away until a tenant farmer (not himself a native Orcadian) dynamited it in 1814. It is variously asserted that he was annoyed by all the visitors who kept turning up or that he wanted a straighter path for ploughing. He was going to destroy the Stones of Stenness too. He pulled one down and destroyed another but was stopped after a public outcry by the community which included legal action and attempts to burn down his house.

 

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Even the more recent buildings are of some interest. Here is a nearby farmhouse complex, at a guess dating from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.

 

 

Maeshowe

Maeshowe is a chamber tomb dating to about 2700BC but photography is not allowed inside, so I cannot show you any images. Instead here are a couple of drawings from the information board.

 

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The entrance is long and low but the interior chamber is large, with space for maybe twenty people to stand around. For several weeks around the time of the shortest day in mid-winter, rays of light may seep through to the chamber at the rising or falling of the sun, at least providing the weather allows the sun to shine. There are small side chambers for storage of bones though any bones that were there have been removed many centuries ago.

 

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When the cairn was first excavated in “recent” times in 1861, they gained access through the roof and discovered that Vikings had also done so many centuries ago. There were at least two occasions when Vikings stopped for a while at Maeshowe and left runes behind, carved in the walls. The first was in 1150, when Earl Rognvald Kali Kolsson was gathering men to go on a Crusade. He and his men spent some time at Maeshowe and left runes behind. The Orkneyinga Saga relates some of their escapades but essentially, they would have been too late for the Second Crusade (1145-1149) which was generally a disaster for the crusaders. They returned in 1153. Also in 1153, around Christmas, Earl Harald Maddadson and a party of men took refuge at Maeshowe during a snowstorm. Two of the men are said to have gone mad there but the party left some runes behind.

Amongst the runic statements left by the Vikings are the following:

  • Crusaders broke into Maeshowe. Lif the Earl’s cook carved these runes. To the north-west is a great treasure hidden. It was long ago that a great treasure was hidden here. Happy is he that might find the great treasure. Haakon alone bore treasure from this mound. (signed Simon Sirith).
  • Ingebjork the fair widow – many a woman has walked stooping in here a very showy person (signed by Erlingr)
  • Thorni fucked. Helgi carved.
  • Ingigerth is the most beautiful of all women (carved beside a rough drawing of a slavering dog)
  • This mound was raised before Ragnarr Lothbrocks her sons were brave smooth-hide men though they were

It may be that Maeshow was used for a Viking burial in the ninth century in which case the references to treasure would be Viking grave goods.

 

the Ness of Brodgar

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In use for about 1,000 years from 3200BC to 2300BC, the Ness of Brodgar was a remarkable ceremonial centre that was only recently discovered and is still largely unexcavated. It includes a massive “temple”, externally 25 x 20 metres (82 x 65 feet) though with walls five metres thick, so rather smaller inside. It appears to have been the centre of activities rather than the stone circles.

 

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I arrived five minutes before closing and consequently just had time for a few pictures and can’t tell you any detail of what is visible.

 

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As identified on the Orkneyjar site, this is Andy Boyer, an American student working as a volunteer on the site.  She perhaps appears to have found a stone axe.

 

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I think this is either part of the Lesser Wall of Brodgar or a section of the Temple.

 

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the Ring of Brodgar

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The Ring of Brodgar is thought to date from 2500BC to 200BC. The ring is much larger than for the Stones of Stenness but the stones are smaller, between 2.1 metres and 4.7 metres in height. There are currently 27 of them and may once have been 60. It is thought to be the last of the great neolithic monuments built on the Ness.

 

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This last image is from the Stones of Stenness again.

 

Earl’s Bu and Round Church, Orphir

Orkney, Scotland. Day 25, 23rd July.

Orphir is the site of two Viking-era ruins, the Earl’s Bu or Hall, known for many violent drinking sessions, and the Round Church of Orphir. There are also traces of many buildings in the immediate neighbourhood, thought to be the remains of the Palace of Earl Paul Haakonsson (Earl 1123 to 1136). It was a major settlement area, along with Birsay until the focus shifted to Kirkwall. You can see a picture of what it may have looked like here. (I cannot show you this directly because of copyright issues and because I do not know how to contact the site.)

 

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After Earl Haakon Paulsson murdered Earl Magnus Erlendsson in 1116 (see previous post), his conscience was troubled and he may have thought his passage to Heaven threatened. Consequently, he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When he came back he built the round church of Orphir which is thought to be based on the Holy Sepulchure in Jerusalem. The church was in use until 1705, when a replacement was built nearby. It was then used as a storage shed until 1756 when much of it was dismantled for stone to repair the new church. Another church was built around it in the nineteenth century. Neither of the later two churches survive.

 

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Orphir is mentioned several times in the Orkneyingen Saga, which is well worth reading.

It is related as the site of the bizarre accidental murder of Earl Harold Haakonsson in 1130. One morning he came upon his mother Helga and Aunt Frakokk making a magnificent white garment. Ignoring their entreaties, he put it on and died. It had been intended for his co-Earl brother Paul. Both Harold and Paul were sons of Haakon who had killed Magnus Erlendsson (and who later became St Magnus).

 

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The Earl’s Bu was the site of another murder outlined in the Orkneyingen Saga. The remains of the Bu suggest one long building 15 x 6 metres, or two conjoined buildings with several internal divisions. The walls and roof would have been covered in turf and there would have been no windows. We see the remains above. The entrance was said to be “a few steps from the church”. We can see what may be the entrance up against the wall which must date from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. The wall is more than two or three steps from the church so perhaps the building continued beyond it. No excavation is possible beyond the wall because the graveyard is still active.

In Christmas 1136, Svein Breast-Rope and Svein Alseifarson were amongst the people drinking around the table in the hall. Svein Breast-Rope repeatedly complained that he was in various ways receiving more alcohol than the other Svein (it was evidently something of a drinking competition). Then he was heard muttering under his breath “Svein will kill Svein” which was taken as a threat. Consequently Svein Asleifarson hid behind the door and hit him with an axe. Svein Breast-Rope did not initially fall but after staggering he struck back – killing not Svein A but his relative Jon.

 

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In 1156 there was conflict between the then three Earls of Orkney. The three were Rognvald Kali Kolsson (who vanquished Paul Haakonsson and built St Magnus’ Cathedral), Harald Maddadsson (grandson of Haakon Paulsson who had killed Magnus Erlendson or St Magnus) and Erlend Haraldsson (son of Harold Haakonsson, who had died accidentally by donning the poisoned clothing). Erlend launched a surprise attack on Orphir, and Rognvald and Harald escaped only narrowly and fled to the Scottish mainland. A few months later, Rognvald and Harald succeeded in killing Erlend in another surprise attack, this time at the Island of Damsay on the other side of Mainland in Orkney.

 

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Just across the road, these are some abandoned farm houses of much more recent vintage than Viking times.

 

St Magnus’ Cathedral

Orkney, Scotland. Day 25 , 23rd July.

 

St Magnus’ Cathedral is a very remarkable building with a very remarkable history.

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St Magnus

How much is legend and how much is fact is not known but the story goes like this:  In 1098 there were two twin brothers who were Earls of Orkney, Erlend and Paul Torfinnson, who had sons Magnus and Haakon respectively.  The Norwegian King Magnus Barelegs turned up, deposed the two Earls, shipped them back to Norway and installed his illegitimate son Sigurd Magnusson instead.  King Magnus then took the Earls’ sons raiding.  When they got to the Island of Anglesey, Magnus Erlendsson refused to join in because he thought it was an unjustified exercise in barbarism and instead stayed on deck and prayed.  Unsurprisingly this did not endear him to King Magnus and Magnus had to flee, spending several years in the Court of the King of Scotland.

Haakon Paulsson became Earl 1n 1104, having previously been Regent for Sigurd Magnusson.  In 1106, with the support of new King Eystein I, Magnus Paulsson became joint Earl.  After nine years, there was building tension between the two Earls and their followers, which came to head at an Althing (local Parliament).  The two Earls agreed to reconcile and meet on an Island, to which each was to turn up with two ships.  Magnus turned up with his two but then Haakon turned up with eight, obviously intending trouble.  Magnus refused to flee and accepted execution.  He was initially buried where he fell and later reburied in Birsay.  There said to be many miracles around his grave and in 1135 he was canonised.

 

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Building of the Cathedral

Rögnvald Kali Kolsson, nephew of Magnus Erlendsson, was declared Earl of Orkney in 1129 by King Sigurd I of Norway.  This was also confirmed by the next King, Harald Gille but neither offered military support against Earl Haakon Paulsson so Rognvald did little for some years.  To help generate support, he declared that he would build a church dedicated to Magnus.  It is likely that the canonisation of Magnus was in support of his candidacy.  He landed successfully in 1136 and became co-Earl by agreement with Haakon.  Then he had Haakon kidnapped and nothing was heard of him again.

Construction of the Cathedral commenced in 1137, under the direction of Rögnvald’s father Kol.  The remains of St Magnus were transferred first to a church in Kirkwall and later to the Cathedral.  Rögnvald was killed by a rebellious Scottish Chieftain in 1158 and he also was canonised in 1192.  It took around three hundred years to complete the Cathedral and it is in such good shape due to a major reconstruction programme in the early 20th century.

 

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The carved figure of the founder Earl Rögnvald, holding a model of the original cathedral.

 

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Kol, the father of Earl Rögnvald, who was a driving force behind the construction of the cathedral.

 

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William the Old, first Bishop of the Cathedral.

Inside the walls of the cathedral, through the arches, is a remarkable series of memorial plaques.  I hope the formatting works for you.  They were originally on the floor of the Cathedral, which may account for why some are quite worn.

The spacing of the text and the images below is relative.  All I can do is to get it to work on my PC.  I hope it makes sense on your screen.  If you’re an email subscriber and the formatting is tangled, try it in your browser.

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Here lyes ane honest man

Thomas Taylor Merchant

Burgess in Kirkwell

Spouse to Jennet Potenger

who departed the 1 of March 1666

 

Corps rest in peace into this wormie clay

Till Christ shall raise thee to a glorious day

 

Virtue triumphs o’er the grave

 

Remember death

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Here rests the corps

of a virtuous and honest man

David Monroe

Dyer and Burgess in Kirkwell

who left surviving

Jean Richen his spous

and John and Elizabeth Monroes their children

They were married 21 Dec 1675

died 21 Sept 1684 aged 34

Live die world

Remember death

 

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This one is much harder to read …

 

RI  BW

 

… in the hope of blessed resurrection

ane pious and worthy gentleman

Robert …

… was married with Barbara Williamson

the 10 of June 1528 (?) and left with …

Margaret and Mary Irvings

their children …

 

 

 

 

 

If there were words on this one, they have eroded away.

All I can see is two coats of arms, one with the letters A and B on each side, a skull and bones and the word mort or death.

Since it is so worn, it may be older than the others.

 

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This one is mainly abbreviated Latin, making little sense to me…

 

Hic tesitup = here lies???

Tomas Reid

CVI (=106) ELOS IVVENTVI

IS SPEM PRO…M

FEREN MORTE … OBIT

VR

TR

4 May 1603

 

Below is part of an earlier plaque, including hic iacet (here lies) and a year – 1564.

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“If Aven Opened” is presumably “If Heaven Opened”

 

DCNT (?)

 

In hope of a blessed resurrection

Heer rests Nicola Trail

Spouse to Dave Covngtrie

Erd (?) and burgess of Kirkwall

Died 23 July 1688

Aged 33

And of some of her children.

 

 

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IB (heart) SH

 

Heer is interred

James Bakie of Burnes

Late Baily of Kirkwall

Died 22 May 1679

And Hew John Tho Arthur Margaret Bakies his children

Procret betwixt him and Sibilla Halcro his spouse

Daughter to Hew Halcro of that ilk

And aged 50

Down below is a fetching cartoon: Ad Hoc/ Ab Hoc/ Per Hoc:

From this (corporeal body) by this (death) to this (heaven).

 

 

This is the burial place of Captain Peter Winchester where lye interred the bodies of his vertuous wife Jane Bakie, daughter to James Bakie of Tankerness and of their 3 children Alex Peter and Arthur

 

Here torn from her husband and surrounded by her three children lies a great glory of the female sex.  She is dead but her virtue is still fragrant after death.  (Then something like:) Jane was right dear on earth, leaves a bright … in heaven 1674

 

Death is the end of all things

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This one is easy to read:

 

August 1750

 

Here was interred

the corps of Mary Young

Spouse to John Riddoch

Then one of the Magistrates of Kirkwall

And afterwards Provost of said Burgh.

 

She lived regarded and died regretted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In hope of a blessed resurrection

Heir lye interred before this monument

The bodies of Elizabeth Cuthbert

Spous to James Wallace

Minister of Kirkwall

And of some of their children

 

(James Wallace was minister of the Cathedral).

 

Bishop’s Palace, Kirkwall

Orkney, Scotland. Days 23 and 25 , 21st and 23rd July.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Bishop's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel
This is the Bishop’s Palace in Kirkwall, as seen from the ground of the Earl’s Palace.  Earl Rognvald Kolsson constructed the Bishop’s Palace for Bishop William the Old in 1137 or shortly after, at about the same time he started building the St Magnus Cathedral.  Originally, the Palace had a Great Hall for meetings and a tower for the Bishop’s quarters and possibly a chapel.  The remains of the original building are still visible in the lower walls of the surviving Palace.

 

In 1163, King Haakon of Norway came here after the inconclusive Battle of Largs which nonetheless lead to the loss of Norwegian sovereignty over the Western Isles.  The illustration at the right shows what the Palace looked like at the time and depicts the arrival of King Haakon.  He fell sick and died here, in the Bishop’s Palace.

 

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Archaeology, Architecture, Bishop's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, TravelBy 1320, the Palace had largely fallen into ruin through neglect.  Then in 1541 Bishop Robert Reid began an extensive programme of restoration and reconstruction. A noticeboard at the site is confused about this.  It says “By that date, the mediæval palace had fallen into a sorry state, but it was imperative that Bishop Reid be able to defend himself and his property, particularly from his neighbour, the infamous Earl of Orkney”.  Yet there was no Earl of Orkney in 1541, Robert Stewart was only eight, he didn’t visit Orkney until 1567 and he didn’t become Earl until 1581.

The main addition Bishop Reid made was to build the round tower, known as the Moosie Toor.  You can see that in the picture above and the diagram to the right.

 

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This image shows a section of the Moosie Toor including holes for firing from, probably with longbows, arquebuses or muskets.

We have already seen an outline of the later history of the Bishop’s Palace, in the previous post for the Earl’s Palace.  Robert Stewart gained control of it in 1568 (he was not yet an Earl).  His son Earl Patrick Stewart was commanded to give it up in 1607 along with the Earl’s Palace he had just built and was forced to actually do so in 1610.  Patrick’s son Robert briefly seized it during a rebellion in 1614.  The Bishops retained control until 1638.  In that year the Covenanters gained religious and political power in Scotland after militarily defeating Charles I.  They abolished Episcopy and Bishops along with that, so there were no Bishops to occupy the Palace.  In 1653, the Bishop’s Palace was used to house Cromwellian troops.  After the Restoration, Charles II restored Episcopy and therefore the Bishops.  A Bishop returned in 1671 but 1688 saw the final abolition of Episcopy and the gradual falling into ruin of the Bishop’s Palace.
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This is the entry chamber, with entry from the street at the left.  The modern concrete at the top is part of an adjoining house.  You can see the holes for the beams where an original floor would have been.  The feature in the middle looks like a bricked-in fireplace for which the chimney no longer exists.

 

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This is the Great Hall of the Bishop’s Palace.   There would have been a wooden floor (now missing) over a lower level.  There appears to be holes for beams along much of the wall so there was presumably another floor up there.  We are looking towards the end where the Bishop’s table would have been.  The original tower with accommodation for the Bishop was to the right at the end, though that tower no longer exists.  The remains of the Moosie Toor is at the end to the left, where there would have been extra accommodation.  The spire of the St Magnus Cathedral is in the background.

 

Archaeology, Architecture, Bishop's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel .

Archaeology, Architecture, Bishop's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

This is the view looking in the opposite direction, towards the public entrance.

The drawing shows this view at the time of Bishop Reid and there is a wooden partition before the end of the hall.  After Earl Robert Stewart too over the Palace, he partitioned the Great Hall into multiple rooms for ancillary accommodation.

 

 

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This is a room inside the Moosie Toor at first floor level.

 

Earl’s Palace, Kirkwall

Orkney, Scotland. Days 23 and 25 , 21st and 23rd July.

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This is the Earls Palace in Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney.  I briefly stopped here on my way to my accommodation on the day I arrived in Orkney, for a few images from the outside.  Two days later I returned when it was open and photographed the inside.

 

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This is what it looked like after it was built.  The long building in the front right is the Bishop’s Palace (next post) and the L-shaped building behind it is the Earl’s Palace.  The inset for floor plans is for the Earl’s Palace (from an information board at the site).

 

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Two posts ago we saw the Earl’s Palace at Birsay, built by Earl Robert Stewart, illegitimate son of James V and half brother of Mary Queen of Scots.  He acquired the Bishop’s Palace at Kirkwell in 1570 from Bishop Adam Bothwell (who visited Orkney twice only).  The Earl’s Palace was built by his son, Patrick Stewart between 1601 and 1607.

The Stewart Earls had invidious reputations, especially Patrick.  He was known for cruel and arbitrary justice and building his palace with unpaid forced labour.  He conducted armed raids and seized houses of his rivals.  Notwithstanding inheriting an earldom already in debt, be undertook an ambitious building program including both the Palace here and a castle at Scalloway in Shetland (which we shall see in due course).

 

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In 1603 the King restored the Bishopric of Orkney and reinstituted the church estates.  This caused a great loss in revenue for Patrick who resorted to increased taxation on other landowners and thus caused intensified opposition.  In 1607 he was required to hand over his newly constructed palace to the Church.  He still occupied it in 1610 but by then he had lost the king’s support and was arrested and sent to prison for five years.

From prison he encouraged his son Robert to rebel.  In 1614 Robert seized both the Kirkwall Palace and the Kirkwall Castle (which no longer exists).  However, he was defeated by the combined forces of the Bishop of Orkney and the Earl of Caithness.  Both Stewarts were executed in 1615.

.

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Ground floor corridor

While Patrick Stewart had a reputation as a tyrant, that was mainly for the effect he had on other landowners.  Probably all earls were vicious suppressors of their poorer subjects.  The fall of the Stewart Earls, though, led to a change in the legal system.  The previous system or Udal Law, derived from the Vikings, gave freehold ownership to small farmers without the need to hold title deeds.  Scottish Feudal Law largely replaced this after Patrick.  I’m not sure how this played out but on the mainland all ownership was concentrated in the Lairds until very recently and still largely is.

 

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Cellar

In 1614, the Church took possession of both the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces but they did not hold them for many decades.  In 1638, when the Covenanters defeated Charles I in the first phase of the Civil War, they abolished Episcopy.  In other words, they abolished hierarchy in the Church and there were no Bishops.

In 1643, Charles granted the Earldom to William Douglas, Earl of Morton but the Earl’s authority did not survive the Civil War.  In 1653, the Palaces were used as accommodation for Oliver Cromwell’s troops.  Episcopy was restored with the Restoration and a Bishop moved back in in 1671 but this did not last long either because the Glorious Revolution in 1688 saw Episcopy abolished again, this time for good.  The Palaces were already severely deteriorated by this time and they fell into ruin during the eighteenth century.

 

Archaeology, Architecture, Birsay, Earl's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

the Between Room

DSCF5172-EditThis is the Between Room and probably the room of the Steward, the person who oversaw the running of the Palace and controlled security.  It’s on the first floor and facing one of the corner turrets.

There’s an irony here.  From the 12th century to 1371 the High Stewards of Scotland were stewards to the Scottish King, for most of that period the House of Dunkeld.  This was an hereditary office and the family who held it were therefore called the Stewarts.  From 1371 the Stewards became Kings (and eventually gave rise to the current Elizabeth Saxe Coburg Gotha, alias Windsor).

So this is the room of the Steward to the Stewart who in turn was son of the bastard son of a Stewart who was King and whose family had for centuries been Stewards to the King.

 

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This is the Great Hall, the principal public room in the Palace, where Earl Patrick dispensed his own peculiar brand of justice.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the Dining Room.  Its appearance is quite different without the elaborate wooden panelling and tapestry hangings it would once have featured.

As a stone building it would have been cold in winter and one wonders what it would take to keep that huge fireplace fed, especially in a land of very little wood.

 

 

 

Archaeology, Architecture, Birsay, Earl's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

These are the stairs from the first floor to the second.  The wall seems to have been patched up with some incongruously new-looking mortar.

 

Archaeology, Architecture, Birsay, Earl's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel DSCF5186

 

This is the Bed Chamber.  Not just a bedroom but also a place where Patrick would have entertained visitors, friends and family.

 

 

 

 

Archaeology, Architecture, Birsay, Earl's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Here we are at a turret in the Bed Chamber,  looking past a turret in the Main Hall, to the corner of the L-shaped Palace where the entrance is.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Birsay, Earl's Palace Kirkwall, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

We can see the turret the previous picture came from.  This is from the end of the second story, now open to the sky.

 

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The Outer Chamber, originally a guest room.

 

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The Inner Chamber, also originally a guest room.  Both Inner and Outer Chambers had their own fireplace, latrine closet and access.  This one was also the quarters of Major Ponsford when he billeted here in 1653 with his Cromwellian troops.

 

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This is the fireplace of a small room half-way up the stairs and above the kitchen.  It may be the one described as the Doctor’s Chambers in the inventory of 1653.  It is uncertain who this Doctor was, perhaps one accompanying the Cromwellian troops at that time.

Broch of Gurness

Orkney, Scotland. Day 25 , 23nd July.

Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Early in the morning, as determined by opening hours, I visited the Broch of Gurness, not far from where I was staying.  The image is level, the broch is just built on sloping ground.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

This is what it would have looked like two thousand years ago, from the information board at the site.  Brochs are always circular stone towers.  This differs from most others, especially those on the mainland, in that it was surrounded by a fortified village.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Here we can see the remaining lower part of the external wall.  In 1929, before excavation, there was just a large grass-covered mound here though there was rumoured to be a broch underneath.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

The sea was the highway of ancient times.  The broch is on the edge of Eynhallow Sound, between Mainland and Rousay.  I think the land in the distance on the left must be the small island of Eynhallow.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Coming in a bit closer, we can start to see the remains of the village that surrounded the broch.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

There was a small fortified settlement here in 400BC, but the main period for the broch was between 200BC and 0AD.  From 200AD to 600AD, the community had gone and there was just a single family farmhouse on the site.  Perhaps the threat of attack and the need for fortification had diminished.  A Viking grave from around 850AD was discovered near here but by that time the site was deserted.

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This is the “Shamrock House”, a later Pictish dwelling with small radiating rooms.  Originally one of the dwellings adjoining the broch, it was painstakingly moved to near the Visitors’ Centre to allow excavating structures underneath.

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And this is what it may have looked like when in use, including a low thatched roof.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

The remains of a dwelling adjoining the broch, though I am unable to describe what we are seeing with any precision.  Perhaps the light brown stone square is a hearth.  Perhaps the recessed box beside it is a well, though the guidebook does not mention it.  There is a well within the broch, with steps down to water, but this is not usually open to the public.

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The path into the broch.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

This is what it may once have looked like.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Past the houses to the door to the broch itself.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Because it is surrounded by a fortified village, the door to the broch is taller than doors to brochs that stand alone.  They usually require that a person stoops as they enter.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel .

Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

This is the interior of the broch.  Much of what we see dates from a later period.  There originally would have been a wooden ceiling above here for an upper floor, and a thatched roof above that.  The wall would have extended much higher.

The rectangular corner on the very front left is part of the hearth.  I would presume the trees were long gone and they had to burn peat or turf, maybe cattle dung as in India today.  The rectangular hole in the ground behind it is the well.  There are steps going down but access is closed.

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A trough for cattle and sheep, perhaps?

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Archaeology, Architecture, Broch of Gurness, Brochs, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Elegant stonework on the interior of the broch wall.

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