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Torrhouse Stone Circle, Dumfries and Galloway

Stone circles aren’t something I associated with Dumfries and Galloway. I think of them more as an up north, Western Isles and Orkney sort of thing.

But here this one was on the road between Kirkcowan and Wigtown. Torrhouse stone Circle is a Bronze Age monument.

Torrhouse Stone Circle

Torhouse  stone circle

Here are three of the stones and a local farm animal, not to mention a tree shaped like a lollipop:-

Torhouse  stone circle three stones + lollipop tree

Càrn Liath Broch (i)

It’s not just Orkney where you can find the remains of brochs.

This one, Càrn Liath Broch, lies west of the A 9 just north of Golspie, Sutherland, Scotland. It’s very well preserved.

Park at the lay-by on the other die of the road – take care crossing, it’s fairly busy – and it’s a short walk to the broch

From the A 9, Moray Firth in background:-

Càrn Liath Broch

From north:-

Càrn Liath Broch, from North

From south:-

Càrn Liath Broch from South

Broch interior:-

Càrn Liath Broch, Interior

An external structure:-

Càrn Liath Broch, External Structure

Information board:-

Càrn Liath Broch Information Board

Dunbeath, Caithness, and Neil M Gunn Memorial

On the way down from Orkney and Thurso we stopped at Dunbeath, Caithness. This was the birthplace of Scottish writer Neil M Gunn.

This stone was laid in his memory. “To commemorate Neil M Gunn, author of world renown, born into this community 8th November 1891.”

Neil M Gunn Memorial, Dunbeath

This statue, erected 100 years after Gunn’s birth, is in honour of the character Kenn from his novel Highland River:-

Kenn + Salmon

This is the river running through the village, the Dunbeath Water, possibly that same Highland river:-

Dunbeath Water

This information board was on a wall nearby. As well as mentioning Gunn it notes other local attractions:-

Information Board, Dunbeath

John O’Groats

Not quite the farthest northeast point of the British mainland (see previous post) John O’Groats is, though, the furthest northeast settlement in Scotland.

There’s almost nothing there though, which does mean it’s thankfully mostly unspoiled.

Well, a small harbour, from which there are boat trips (foot passengers only) to the island of Stroma, and I think Orkney:-

Harbour, John  O' Groats

A hotel:-

Hotel, John  O' Groats

The signpost – very difficult to photograph without a body in the way – though they don’t all wear silly hats:-

Signpost, John  O' Groats

This view inland also shows in the background the shop at the site:-

Inland View, Signpost, John  O' Groats

There’s also a sculpture with three intersecting curved metal strips to represent the local nomadic boulders the information board shown below explains. There were children playing on it though so I didn’t photograph the sculpture itself:-

Nomadic Boulders Information Board, John  O' Groats

Duncansby Head

Before heading back south from Thurso I’m nipping back to Duncansby Head, the northeasternmost tip of Scotland (and the UK) which is not, as most people might think, John O’Groats. Duncansby Head is a few miles eastward along a one-track road.

As we had factored in possible traffic delays we had an hour or so’s grace before the ferry to Orkney and so took in the Head.

Duncansby Head, Caithness

Cliffs and an inlet:-

Duncansby Head Cliffs

The cliffs are home to lots of seabirds:-

Birds at  Duncansby Head

As you might expect there’s a lighthouse at the land’s end:-

Duncansby Head Lighthouse

Just to the south of the head are these rocks sticking up out of the sea. They’re known as the Duncansby Stacks:-

Duncansby Stacks

On the way across to Orkney on the ferry I took this photo of Duncansby Head from ten or so miles away in the Pentland Firth:-

Duncansby Head from Pentland Firth

More Archæology on the Brough of Birsay

Later Norse Houses with 12th century church in background:-

Later Norse Houses, Brough of Birsay

12th century church. (See Pictish stone to left):-

12th Century Church, Brough of Birsay,

Edge of 12th century church complex:-

Edge of 12th Century Church Complex

12th century church remains:-

Brough of Birsay, 12th Century Church Remains

12th century church information board:-

12th Centrury Church Information Board

Sunken structure, possibly another Norse house:-

Sunken Structure, Brough of Birsay

North edge of archæological site, Brough of Birsay:-

Remains, Brough of Birsay

Archæology on the Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is an island just off the north-east coast of mainland Orkney. I blogged here about the causeway you have to cross to access the island.

It is also home to some archæological remains (as well as a Stevenson lighthouse which we didn’t visit.) The weather was fine when we walked across the causeway to the island but while we were there it started to rain and the wind was so strong the rain was coming in horizontally, so discretion prevailed over perseverance. Even so by the time we got back to the car we were thoroughly drookit.

There was some nice geology just where the path from the causeway meets the brough proper.

Rocks, Brough of Birsay, Orkney

The archæology on the brough comes from three distinct eras. First there was some Pictish occupancy. However this Pictish symbol stone is a replica, unfortunately. (Though there was such a stone found on the brough.)

Pictish Symbol Stone, Brough of Birsay

There is a better photograph of the symbol stone on Historic Scotland’s Birsay webpage if you click through the pictures.

As the information board says there was later Norse – in two phases – and ecclesiastical building on the island.

Brough of Birsay Information Board

Remains of Norse houses:-

Remains of Norse Houses, Brough of Birsay

A later Norse house:-

Norse House, Brough of Birsay

Another later Norse house:-

Later Norse House, Brough of Birsay

Birsay may have been the home of Thorfinn the Mighty.

Brough of Birsay, Norse Houses, Information Board

Broch of Gurness, Orkney (ii)

The broch‘s entrance:-

Broch of Gurness, Entrance

Entrance information board:-

Broch of Gurness Entrance Information Board

Interior from entrance:-

Broch of Gurness, Interior from Entrance

Hearth at centre of broch:-

Broch of Gurness, Hearth

Internal compartment with stone trough:-

Broch of Gurness, Compartment

Interior wall:-

Interior Wall, Broch of Gurness, Orkney

Interior chamber:-

Interior Chamber, Broch of Gurness

Broch of Gurness, Orkney (i)

The Broch of Gurness, by the shores of Eynhallow Sound, near the village of Evie, Orkney, is quite remote, up a narrow winding road leading off the A 966. It is quite well preserved though and is in the care of Historic Scotland.

The day we were there it was driving rain. The attendant said he was on the point of giving up for the day although it was not long after lunchtime. Even so, as we were leaving another car rolled up to the car park. We had the broch to ourselves while we were there though.

Broch from site entrance:-

Broch of Gurness from Site Entrance

The first building you meet just inside the boundary, though, is called the Shamrock due to its shape. It’s the remains of a Pictish farm dating from much later than the broch and was moved to allow better exploration of the broch itself.

Shamrock Building, Broch of Gurness, Orkney

Shamrock Building Information Board

Broch of Gurness from west, showing outer rampart wall:-

Broch of Gurness, Showing Outer Rampart Wall

Broch of Gurness from south, Eynhallow Sound in background and Isle of Rousay somewhere in the mists beyond:-

Broch of Gurness, Eynhallow Sound

Broch of Gurness, plus part of rampart wall, Eynhallow Sound behind.

Broch of Gurness, Part of Rampart Wall

Broch of Gurness from southeast:-

Broch of Gurness from Southeast

Broch of Gurness, rampart wall and ditch:-

Broch of Gurness, Rampart Wall and Ditch

Broch of Gurness information board:-

Broch of Gurness Information Board

Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney (iv)

The big former oil tank at Lyness now houses a large video screen showing films about Scapa Flow and the ships which once used it, plus several exhibits of large(ish) military machinery.

A troop carrier with US markings and searchlight in background:-

Troop Carrier, Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney

A DUKW (or Duck) + Crane:-

DUKW + Crane, Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney

Wheeled anti-aircraft gun. Not the best photo I’ve ever taken:-

Anti-aircraft Gun, Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney

Signs outside pointed to an air-raid shelter. We followed them to the entrance:-

Emtrance to Air-raid Shelter, Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney

It was quite extensive inside. This is a view of the corridor:-

Air-raid Shelter Corridor, Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney

I suppose the rooms may have been furnished with chairs or bunks but they don’t look very prepossessing now:-

Air-raid Shelter "Room", Lyness Naval Museum, Hoy, Orkney

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