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The Lost Weekend

Tom Muir

 

One weekend, around Easter 2003, Dr Colin Richards arrived on my doorstep looking for a bed for the night. He was up for the weekend, and wanted to investigate a few standing stones as part of a project he was working on.

We got in touch with our good friend Angus Mackintosh, who was happy to join in, and so it was arranged that we would set out on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Now unfortunately, I was coming down with a bad does of the cold, and the prospect of sitting on a hillside in Sandwick didn't appeal to me.

Colin assured me that it was, in fact, just what I needed, and that the fresh air would do me the world of good. Like a fool, I believed him! These are a few of the photos taken over that lost weekend.

The Lost Weekend Pic
A small upright stone at Vestrafiold which looked like the snapped off base of a standing stone. Colin investigated.
The Lost Weekend Pic
The stone turned out to be nothing more than quarrying debris. Sadly, no standing stone on Vestrafiold overlooking Skara Brae.
The Lost Weekend Pic
The back-breaking work went on for minutes and minutes; it proved too much for Colin, who needed a nap.
Angus offers himself up as a sacrifice to the 'Finds God.'
The Lost Weekend Pic
Not being downhearted, a small trench was opened on the mound that was to be dug that summer. The hard work, once again, proved too much for our brave archaeologists, who needed to stop for a snooze.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Angus finds a sheltered spot, while Colin and I had evil thoughts.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Another day, another possible standing stone. This one is in the field next to the Staney Hill standing stone in Harray. We had a nice chat to the lady who owned the land, who kindly let us have a small dig in order to see if this was in fact another standing stone. It proved to be a natural lump of stone, probably quarrying debris from the nearby quarry. Angus's mood swings were starting to cause us concern.
The Lost Weekend Pic
On the other side of the road from the Staney Hill stone there is what may be the largest stalled cairn in Orkney. We had a look.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Colin (in the distance) is standing at the far end of the possible tomb, a staggering distance. More uprights are visible at the rear, along with what looked like the back-slab.
The Lost Weekend Pic
We also had a look at the Stone of Quoybune in Birsay.
The Lost Weekend Pic
While we were here the landowner arrived, and we had a nice chat with him. I told him the stories about the stone, and how it walks to the Boardhouse Loch for a drink on New Year's Day.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Our final day saw Colin and I investigate the Ring of Brodgar (no digging this time; honest!). We had noted that the stone at Staney Hill, and the quarry below it, were formed of sedimentary rock that had swirls in it, looking like knots in a piece of wood. We had been looking at the stones at Brodgar, and it was obvious to this armchair geologist that they came from different places. This stone is very different from the others in the circle, as it is pointed. The stone displays the same swirls in it as the Staney Hill rock; the only one in the circle to do so. It is nice to think that the stones of the Ring of Brodgar may have been brought from all around Orkney to be raised in this special place.
The Lost Weekend Pic
On the shores of the Harray Loch lie two large slabs of rock, and other smaller pieces. They are situated to the north of the Ring of Brodgar, between the circle and Bookan. To me it is obvious that they have been cleared from the neighbouring field, as there are also piles of small stones that have been cleared from the land. What other stones may have been raised beside the great circle? Here Colin stands by one of these slabs.
The Lost Weekend Pic
A second slab lies by the shore nearer the Ring of Brodgar.
The Lost Weekend Pic
A second slab lies by the shore nearer the Ring of Brodgar.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Colin examines the slab.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Colin with the slab. Behind him is the Ring of Brodgar with Salt Knowe on the horizon.
The Lost Weekend Pic
Other smaller pieces of stone by the shore. Note Salt Knowe over Colin's shoulder.
 
 
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