The Drinking Horse

Shetland, Scotland. Day 28, 26th July.

From Scalloway Castle and West Burra I headed to Northmavine, the wild top corner of Mainland on Orkney. Due to the weather and shortness of time I didn’t see many of the places I had identified as worth visiting. It’s the sort of place that would repay long walks and much time spent in different weather conditions. That wasn’t available to me but much of what I saw was nonetheless impressive.

 

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_1383258_s This is Dore Holm, or the Drinking Horse.

 

 

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This is Calder’s Geo at Esher Ness in Northmavine.  A sea cave on the northern side (here the right hand side) is the largest in Britain, 20 metres high and with a floor area of 5,500 square metres (or about eight football pitches).  The cave is accessible from the sea and only when it is calm.  There are also not too many boats in the near vicinity.

The lighthouse was designed by David Stevenson  It is the last built by the Stevenson family and first lit in 1929.

 

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Another coastal view nearby, at Esher Ness.

 

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The stacks on the horizon are The Drongs.  We are now driving away from Esher Ness.

 

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A dry stone farm building at the end of a remote road.  Perhaps this was once a family house.

 

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Back in West Mainland, near where I was saying, this is the Scord of Brouster.  Here we see one of the neolithic farm buildings.  It was farmed from 3000BC to 1500BC.  In 1500BC a climatic change brought wetter and colder weather and because all the trees had been chopped down for land clearing, building or fuel, the fertile soil changed to peat and the land was never farmed again.  This is why we can see these ancient remains today.

 

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This is a cairn.  I presume that means a funeral cairn but I don’t know.  There are three houses and one also has a workshop or outhouse.

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Another of the houses.  The earliest houses were made of wood and no trace of them is visible.  There are also some remains of field walls.   The farmers grew an early form of barley and ploughed their fields with wooden ploughs or ards, pulled by oxen.  The ploughs had stone tips which broke when they hit rocks under the ground.  Seventy-five of these ard tips were found on site.  Fragments of pottery, steatite (soft stone) bowls and handled clubs were also found.

Australian readers are free to speculate that the Scord of Brouster may have been the home of the ancestors of the Brewster Brothers.

 

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Close to where I was staying at Burrastow, here are a couple of abandoned croft houses beside the road.

 

Return to Sumburgh

Shetland, Scotland. Day 29, 27th July 2013.

This was the day I was to catch a plane to fly out to Aberdeen but it was to leave mid-afternoon so I had plenty of time to visit some places first.

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Very early in the morning this was the view where I was staying at Burrastow, with fog and no dawn colours.

 

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I headed off to the west and this is Buxter Click Mill, on the western tip of Mainland.  The roof evidently used to be turf, perhaps atop stone slabs.  Hopefully someone will get around to restoring that to allow the wooden roof structure to survive.

 

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Underneath the mill,  these are the wooden blades the water turned to grind the barley.

 

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Hours later, I have turned around and am heading for Sumburgh on the south tip of Mainland.  I stopped to visit the lime kins of Fladdabister but found they were a longer walk than I had time for.  These are abandoned crofting houses by the sea.

 

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Abandoned house detail, also at Fladdabister.

 

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These two images are on the west coast, near Scousburgh.  The island is Colsay.  The second image is available larger than the usual expanded size if you click on it.

 

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This little bay is called Peerie Voe.

 

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This is the Croft House Museum.  It is a nineteenth century ben and but house, such as we saw at Corrigal Farm Museum in Orkney, with living area, barn and byre under one roof.  Unfortunately it was closed, probably for lunch.

 

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This is in Sumburgh at Old Scatness, a site under excavation with overlaid remains of iron age, Pictish Viking and Mediæval structures.  This includes an iron age village with broch, wheelhouses and later dwellings.  It was found during construction of an airport access road in 1975 which was then directed around it.  Unfortunately the site was also closed and all I can show you is two reconstructed structures.  I have no specific information on what they are, though I presume the roofed one on the left is an iron age house.  However, Jarlshof was open and that will be the next post….

Scalloway Castle

Shetland, Scotland. Day 28, 26th July.

It was a wet day so I stayed in my room for some hours processing images until the weather began to clear.  Then I headed for Scalloway Castle.

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En route, I went to Lerwick where I visited the museum.  I also briefly stopped to take a couple of images there.  This is a different lodberry (eighteenth century warehouse/ wharf) to the one at the end of the St Ninian’s Isle post, with the Viking galley still in the background.

 

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Boats at moorings in Lerwick.

 

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Less than ten kilometres away is Scalloway and this is Scalloway Castle.  We have previously encountered Earl Robert Stewart, bastard half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots in the post on Birsay and his son Earl Patrick Stewart in the post on Earl’s Palace, Kirkwall.  Scalloway Castle was built by Earl Patrick Stewart as his residence in Shetland from 1599 to 1604.

 

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There were originally also various outbuildings, courtyards and enclosed gardens.  The main building was originally four stories high.

 

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This was probably originally a ground floor office

 

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This was originally the kitchen (also on the ground floor).

 

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A corridor, probably on the first or second floor.

 

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This is the Main Hall.  There was another story above the floor here.  By 1701 the slate tiles had started to fall off and the roof beams were decaying.  In 1908 the ruined castle came under State ownership.

 

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This is how the Main Hall may have looked at the time, from an information board at the site.  The walls were plastered and hung with tapestries.  There were also many large open fires to maintain warmth, extravagant no doubt in a land with little or no wood unless they used turf, dung or peat.

 

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This is a chamber or bedroom.  There was another, including a toilet, on the floor above.

 

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Looking down a castle stairwell.

 

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And this is Hamnavoe, on the island of West Burra a few kilometres south.

 

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I’m not sure exactly where this is but it must be in West Burra or East Burra, not very far from Hamnavoe.  I might have gone for a walk in the countryside near here but the weather did not encourage it.

 

Culswick Broch

Shetland, Scotland. Day 27, 25th July.

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The walk out to Culswick Broch offers views along a particularly fine stretch of coastline.

I can no longer offer massive images to zoom in through since Microsoft is in the process of killing Zoom.It but this image and the fourth one expand to a larger than usual size if you click on them.

 

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Here it is, on the top of the hill.  A drawing survives from 1774 that shows it as largely intact at that time.  The remains of later buildings down the slope to the right would have used stones from the broch.  The same probably applies to many of the walls and ruined buildings in the first image.

 

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A telephoto panorama with Vaila Island in the background.

 

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Approaching the entrance of the broch, with its huge triangular lintel stone over the door.  You can see that it held a commanding position, with any ships visible for many miles.  It has not been excavated.

 

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I am now standing on top of the broch.  Out to the left is the Atlantic.  Then there is the island of Vaila.  Where I was staying for the night was behind there.  The water to the right of Vaila is Vaila Sound.   The peninsula to the right of that is White’s Ness, which has a small lighthouse on the end.  The stretch of water to the right is Gruting Voe.

 

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A view from inside the broch.  You can see part of the entrance way but I suspect that was blocked and not the way I came in.

 

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Looking past the broch to the coastal views.

 

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Later that night, after dinner, here is the sunset at Burrastow.

Stanydale Temple

Shetland, Scotland. Day 27, 25th July.

From Lerwick I drove to West Mainland and Stanydale Temple.  The largest island on the Shetlands is called Mainland.  This is not to be confused with Mainland, the largest island in the Orkneys, or the Scottish mainland, or the British mainland, or the Continent (the European mainland).

 

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(Click image for larger than usual expanded image)

We are looking down from the main road near Tresta on Clunies Ross’s House and Aamos Kirk.  The Clunies Ross house is the large ruins; the ruins of the kirk (or church) is inside the graveyard wall, though there may not be much left of it.

John Clunies Ross was a Scottish sea captain who settled in the Cocos Keeling Islands south west of Indonesia in 1827.   The islands had been first settled by British merchant Alexander Hare in 1825 and Clunies Ross established full control in 1831.  He became known as “King of Cocos” and established a kind of feudal monarchy that lasted 150 years.  John died in 1854 and his son John George took over.  In 1857, Britain annexed the islands by mistake;  it was supposed to be a Cocos Island in the Andamans Group.   In 1955 the islands became an Australian Territory and began a long period of tension between the Australian Government and the Clunies Ross Family.  The islanders were paid with plastic tokens only redeemable in the Clunies Ross store.   In 1978 the Australian Government bought out the Clunies Ross family and in 1984 the islands voted to integrate with Australia.  By then five generations of the Clunies Ross family had reigned over the islands.

Da Aamos Kirk came with a tradition that people would bring money or gifts here when they wished something special to happen.  This tradition continued at least to the 1840s, long after the kirk was demolished.

 

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Fish farming, Weisdale Voe, from nearly the same point as the previous image.

 

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This is Stanydale Temple, the remains of a neolithic structure that was the centre for a farming community from 3000BC to 2000BC.  This is the view from the doorway.  It was called a Temple when it was excavated in 1947.  It is much larger than a normal house of the time but may alternatively have been a Chief’s residence or a community centre.

 

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Here we are looking back towards the other end of the Temple, from atop the walls.  The walls are thick (1.8 to 2.7 metres) to aid in insulation in winter.  For the same reason, the doorway is narrow and faces away from the prevailing winds.

 

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There are three hearths within the Temple and a number of “booths” embedded in the inside walls.  The countryside was much more fertile 3,000 years ago.  Some combination of over-farming, tree removal and climate change help change the soils towards peat.

 

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Here are some small standing stones beside the Temple, which you can see in the background.

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And this is what Stanydale Temple may have looked like 3,000 years ago, from an information board at the site.  A lot of effort was required to build it, because the stones were not from near by.

 

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From Stanydale Temple, I headed towards Culswick Broch.  Here are some abandoned farmhouses at Gruting.

 

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More abandoned farmhouses, also at Gruting.

 

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This is Culswick, where I parked the car before a walk to the broch.  This is not an urban area and the phone is still probably perfectly operational. Handy if the local residents need to phone a builder.

 

Clickimin Broch

Shetland, Scotland. Day 27, 25th July.

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Clickimin Broch is now surrounded by a suburb of Lerwick, the main town of Shetland, as you can see in this image, taken from a road at the side.

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This is the path in.  Originally there was an island and around the 6th or 7th century BC, a small family farm with a fence to enclose the cattle and sheep.  There was a large circular farm house from around the 5th century BC.  In the 4th or early 3rd century BC, the wall was enlarged as a defensive wall and a blockhouse was built

 

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I presume the feature parallel to the path is the original stone causeway and entrance path.

 

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The stones in front may be the remains of a small wall and gate at the end of the causeway, though with most of the stone removed over time.

 

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This is the entrance way through the outer wall.

 

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Just beyond the main entrance way, this is the blockhouse, originally much higher than now.  The broch is behind but hidden by perspective.  We will later see this blockhouse from the other side.

 

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Rather than continuing straight through to the broch, I first walked around between the broch and the outerwalls.  There are the remains of many dwellings here.

 

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Looking back towards the broch.  I think that is probably a hearth in the foreground.

 

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

Archaeology, Architecture, Brochs, Clickimin Broch, History, Landscape, Orkney, Photography, Scotland, Travel

The entrance of the broch, from the inside looking out.

 

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Looking down on some of the steps within the broch, perhaps the steps from the ground floor to the first level.  Not available for traverse in any case.

 

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A view from the top.  We can see remains of prehistoric houses, the outer wall, the lake and the town beyond.

 

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The broch was built around 100AD.  It was originally 12 to 15 metres high (much higher than it is now).  In the second and third centuries AD the need for such fortifications reduced and a wheelhouse was constructed inside the broch.

Sometime between 500AD and the arrival of the Vikings in 800AD, the broch and surrounding dwellings were abandoned.

 

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The stairway in the centre of the broch here is not an original feature but the stairs inside the walls are not open for use.

 

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This is the back of the blockhouse, as seen from the top of the broch.

 

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A couple walk past the remains of old dwellings.

 

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Walking out through the blockhouse.

 

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A final view from the road, looking back.

 

St Ninian’s Isle

Shetland, Scotland. Day 27, 25th July 2013.

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In the distance is St Ninian’s Isle.  I originally hoped to stay in one of those houses overnight and perhaps get some dawn shots, but a room was not available.

 

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The island you can see on the horizon is Fair Isle, halfway between Shetland and Orkney.

 

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(While if you click on any image in this Blog you will see a larger one,  in some cases I have been able to offer a huge image you can scroll around in.  However, I can no longer create such images because Microsoft has killed its free Zoom.it service and I’m not aware of any easy alternatives.  This also means 64 such images in this Blog will become unavailable in their expanded form on 15th September, in about a week).

The island is connected by a sand causeway or tombolo.  The remains of a 12th century chapel are just to the right of the end of the tombolo.  Older ruins lie beneath.  The island may have been used as a domestic residence from the first century BC and as a Pictish burial ground from the third century AD.  There are Christian burials there in a graveyard that was used up till the nineteenth century as well as earlier Pictish burials from prior to the arrival of Christianity.

Excavation in the 1958 revealed a wooden box containing a cache of twenty-eight silver objects from the 8th century, the “treasure” of St Ninians.  This included bowls, weaponry and jewellery and is thought to be personal items rather than ecclesiastical.

 

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From the view in the previous image I am now looking to the right.   The strip cultivation suggests continuation of ancient forms of land tenure.

 

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Here we look from that tiny village back towards the island and the tombolo.

 

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If you click on the image for a larger view, you can make out a few people walking along the tombolo, which is 500 metres long.

 

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From St Ninian’s Isle I went to Lerwick, the main town in Shetland.  This is The Lodberrie, the best preserved of a series of Lodberries that used to front the Lerwick shoreline.  Dating from the eighteenth century, they were merchant houses and docks for loading and unloading produce from ships.  Hence the two boats in the foreground are on a stone sea ramp and the door behind opens onto the sea.  The globe in the window is in context with the historical significance of the building and in the background there is a seabird in flight and a Viking galley.  You can pay to go for a row in that galley if you’re there at the right time.