Sunday, 22 May 2011

Rousay Rousay Rousay!

One of the main islands, this is reached by ferry from the mainland.

We were bright and early for the first ferry just to discover that the booking office didn't open til 10 minutes after the ferry departed... However this didn't seem to be a problem. We were allowed on and bought our return tckets by telephone from the middle of the Sound.  The fact that we couldn't actually have our tickets in hand to show to anyone until the return to the mainland also didn't seem to be a problem ( and wasn't)!.

Rousay has a wealth of tombs, some though are badly ruined, others you can enter. Here are a few.

This is Blackhammer. A long  cairn with 7 stalls,  2 adult men were found here as well as the bones of several sheep. Total length is about 13 metres. The roof and walls here have been reconstructed too. From the outside it appears as a long grassy mound tucked into the hillside and overlooking the Sound.

Next we have  Taversoe Tuick. This is a two storey tomb and this is the way to the lower part. The ladder isn't fixed to allow you to move it out of the way once you've gone down it - it is very cramped at the bottom. Originally both levels would have been separate and had their own level tunnel entries- that of the lower chamber being 6 metres long.

There is  a third burial chamber  just outside the main tomb.

Moving on to Midhowe Cairn, this was by far the largest. Difficult to photograph so it's time for a short video - apologies for the quality. I'm not destined to be a movie cameraman!

Next to the Cairn  is Midhowe Broch. It is amongst the finest examples of a fortified dwelling built during the Bronze/Iron Ages.

Dating somewhere between  200BCE and 200CE it occupied an imposing position. Much of the surrounding area has been lost to coastal erosion. The broch seems to have been used for an extended period of time and interestingly some of the finds here include Roman artifacts which may have been traded for as the Roman's of course didn't occupy Orkney.

The Broch is situated at one end of the Westness Walk, considered to be one of the most important archeological miles in Scotland. It spans settlements from the first stone age settlers, the Pictish Iron Age, the Viking invaders, the period of the earls and the crofting times.

Not quite finished with Rousay yet. This is the Knowe of  Yarso - another long  chambered cairn. The remains of 29 individuals were found here along with animal bones and late neolithic/early bronze age pottery

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