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Thursday 27 August 2015


And to end the day a most amazing sunset with stunning colours that filled the sky for hours.

I had to drive up to post some letters in our island post box and the light was just beautiful before sunset.  It reflected off the tower of Hoy High lighthouse and the gable end of Sandside.

And the light across Sandside Bay was lovely....

I stopped further along the road to take a photo of the sun starting to set....

The clouds were beautiful too

And then the light show began...

Lights of Stromness just coming on

Tuesday 25 August 2015

A wander across the heath

Looking across Graemsay farmland
Graemsay has a wide variety of habitat including some wonderful unspoilt heathland that is rich in wild flowers, most of which I am unable to identify!   The heath by the old quarry also has some stunning views across to Hoy and Stromness.  I took a drive up to the quarry then went for a slow wander across the heath. I hope you enjoy the wander too!

Looking Northwards is Hoy High lighthouse and Sandside.

Looking towards the Manse and Stromness on the Mainland of Orkney.

And here looking at the old school (no longer in use) and the old school house where the teacher used to live.

There are plenty of ruins around, once homes and crofts to large families.

A traditional "butt and ben" where the family would have lived in one end and the livestock in the other.  The buildings are very linear.....

And one of the inhabited crofts (Gorn) in the distance (to the right)

The Hoy hills make a dramatic backdrop to the heath and the ruined crofts

And HUGE skies in Orkney. I love that.... you can just make out Hoy High Lighthouse at the bottom...

Here are some of the wildflowers.....

Self Heal

Devil's Bit Scabious just flowering

Bog Asphodel
Grass of parnasussus

Bog Cotton
Not sure what this is? Wild Thyme maybe?

And I sat by the quarry itself for a while, hoping to see dragons..... sadly none appeared.... No not the fire breathing kind, the sort with dainty little wings that look like Tinkerbelle!  Dragon flies and Damsel flies..... one day maybe... they HAVE been spotted here...

And a nice shallow bit for wee creatures to get in and out.....

Hope you enjoyed your wander across the heath, it wasn't too boggy for you I hope!  No wet feet?  And next I'll share with you the beautiful sunset that ended this magical day....

Saturday 22 August 2015

Misty morning.....

Where is Stromness?
Monday of this last week was one of the most stunning days this year.  We've not had the best of Summers in Orkney, though the last few weeks have FELT like summer at last, with blue skies, warm air and not too much rain.  But Monday was just perfect.  I was working but took time out to go for a wander around the island too so will share those photos in the next post... meanwhile.... here is our misty Monday morning....

I love when the mist shows up the most beautiful detail in spider webs....

Hoy High lighthouse disappeared too!

Gradually the mist began to lift and I could see Graemsay again....

And Stromness began to appear!

And then the sun came out and the clouds danced!  This one is doing the rhumba.....

Though later in the day Strumness seemed to crawl under a duvet for a while.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Ness of Brodgar Dig 2015

About this time of year for the last few years I've been posting photos from a fantastic archaeological dig in Orkney, the Ness of Brodgar.  The BBC have featured the site in various programmes and it has also been featured in the National Geographic magazine.  It is quite an extraordinary site, both in size and in the structures and artifacts being discovered.

There is a dig diary here  and for enthusiasts - you can buy a guide book from here written by Nick Card, dig director, Roy Towers and Mark Edmonds.

The earliest structures at the Ness of Brodgar date from c3,300 to 3,200 BC, and the latest ones around 2,200 BC.  So that fits in with the timeline of the other Neolithic sites in Orkney such as Skara Brae, Maes Howe, Tomb of the Eagles, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness.  The Ness of Brodgar geographically sits between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness.  In a broader sense in Britain this was BEFORE Stonehenge which dates from c2,500.

I have very little knowledge of archaeology but I just love going along to the site and spending time watching the painstaking work.  There is always an air of excitement as each day something new unfolds.  Even the "commonplace" is fascinating and tells a story.

Even to my untrained eye it's possible to make out distinct structures....

This is a photo of a structure that has been labelled "The Many Coloured Hall" which has "piers" of stone intruding into the space.  Coloured or "painted" stone has been discovered here too.  Plastic sheeting and tyres are used to protect areas that are to be explored further.

Around the site are explanations of some of the structures for visitors to get a better understanding of, what to the uninitiated, seems like a pile of stones!

The dig lasts six weeks this year and next, 2 weeks in July and 4 weeks in August.  There's lots of activity with archaeology students and experienced archaeologists scraping and brushing and generally have a good "rummage" around in a very ordered way.

Here are a selection of photos of the site....

There are three tours a day at the site led by experts, and a great viewing platform to see the overall site from.

The tours are great, but I also love just stopping by and watching the work progress.  I know one or two folk there who stop and chat about what they're doing or what they've found. Archaeologists are a very friendly bunch it would seem!

This lovely lady stopped to show me her latest find.  Cattle bones!  Dating from about 2,400 BC when it is thought perhaps a great "decomissioing" freast took place where hundreds of cattle were slaughtered and consumed, with bones placed in the surrounding passageways. She was the first person to set eyes on these bones in over 2,000 years, and I saw them soon after! Spine tingling to think I was one of the first people to see them - cattle which would have grazed the land we stood on and looked at the same Hoy Hills we look at today.

A close up - covered in earth, yet to be cleaned, tagged and analysed.

There have been other finds too,  This is a replica of a stone ball found on the site - apparently almost exclusively only found in Scotland (so far).  It's a very tactile object, but it's purpose is unknown.

And this wee spatula (NOT a replica!).  I've got one like this in my kitchen!!

So if you are in Orkney at the end of July or during August 2016 do go along to the site!  And if you're not - keep an eye out for the dig diary!