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Skara Brae, Orkney (iii)

Just at the beginning of the path from the Visitor Centre to the Skara Brae excavations there is a modern mock up of what the neolithic houses at the site may have looked like.

Entrance to Mock Skara Brae House:-

Entrance to Mock Skara Brae House

Internal Passage:-

Internal Passage Skara Brae Mock Up

I doubt the original houses had the electric light fitting!:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Passage

Mock up bed:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Bed

Mock Up Ceiling:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Ceiling

Mock up, hearth and dresser:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Hearth and Dresser

Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Skara Brae (see previous posts) lies beside the Bay of Skaill which has a lovely scenic beach.

Beach from Skara Brae:-

Beach at Bay o' Skaill, Orkney,  from Skara Brae

Panorama of bay and beach:-

Bay of Skaill, Orkney, Beach Panorama

There was a colouration difference under the water here:-

Beach at Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Further along the beach we spotted a fairly picturesque ruined building, perhaps once a croft:-

Ruin near Skara Brae

The abandoned agricultural equipment in foreground bolsters that assumption:-

House Ruin, Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Further along still we found this fantastic rock formation, layers on layers of sediment:-

Rock Formation, Bay of Skaill, Orkney

You can see the slabs lying in the foreground. Lots of buildings in Orkney seemed to be made from slabs of stone like this.

Skara Brae, Orkney (ii)

General scene of excavated houses – tourist path in background:-

Excavated Houses, Skara Brae, Orkney

Stone dresser:-

Stone Dresser, Skara Brae, Orkney

Excavated path:-

Skara Brae Excavation

More excavations:-

More Excavation Skara Brae

Neolithic Construction Skara Brae

This has no beds nor dresser and so it is believed to be a neolithic workshop, photo taken from west. The beach at Skaill Bay is visible to left (in Skara Brae’s heyday the sea was much further out) Skaill House in background:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from West

Neolithic Workshop from North, Skaill House in background:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from North

Neolithic workshop from East:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from East

Skara Brae, Orkney (i)

After settling in at Stromness for the night, the neolithic village of Skara Brae, on the shores of Skaill Bay (or Bay o’ Skaill,) was the first place we visited on Orkney. Ever since I heard about it Skara Brae was somewhere I always wanted to visit so I was delighted to be able to.

It was mobbed with people though, only to be expected I suppose.

Early houses:-

Skara Brae Early Houses 1

Skara Brae, Early Houses 2

Passage to a house entrance:-

House Entrance, Skara Brae, Orkney

An excavated house, Skara Brae Visitor Centre in left background, modern day Skaill House in right background:-

Neolithic House at Skara Brae,Orkney

Neolithic house with stone dresser:-

Neolithic House with Stone Dresser, Skara Brae, Orkney

Neolithic house entrance:-

House Entrance, Skara Brae

A passage between houses:-

Passage Between Houses, Skara Brae, Orkney

Marwick Head, Orkney

The cliffs at Marwick Head, the westernmost point of mainland Orkney, are stunning – at least on a sunny day.

The sea was a fantastic blue colour:-

Marwick Head, Orkney

Another cliff:-

Cliff and Sea at Marwick Head, Orkney

The southernmost headland had a standing stone on it. Seabirds circling:-

More Cliff at Marwick Head, Orkney

View South from Marwick Head, Orkney. Hoy in distance:-

View South from Marwick Head, Orkney

Looking north from the vantage point above. Marwick Head, Orkney, and Kitchener Memorial, standing stone in right foreground. The island off to the left is the Brough of Birsay:-

Marwick Head, Orkney, and Kitchener Memorial

Kitchener Memorial, Marwick Head, Orkney

We were motoring more or less up the west coast of mainland Orkney after visiting Skara Brae and Skaill House (of which more later) when I saw an imposing tower on a hill top overlooking the sea. Then I spotted a brown (site of interest) signpost saying “Kitchener Memorial” pointing off the road towards it. I immediately turned onto the one-track road indicated.

Kitchener made his name at the Battle of Omdurman – machine guns against spears; not an equal contest – during the punitive expedition against the Mahdi after his followers (Dad’s Army‘s “fuzzy-wuzzies”) killed General Gordon at Khartoum. He later took over the conduct of the South African War (the Second Boer War) instituting the measures that made sure the Boers could not live off the land, by taking their supporters/suppliers into the original concentration camps, before becoming head of the army and featuring on the famous Great War recruiting poster.

I knew Kitchener had been drowned at sea when the ship carrying him on a mission to Russia, HMS Hampshire, hit a mine recently laid by a German submarine but hadn’t realised it had been so close to Orkney. I also hadn’t known the memorial was there so this was a serendipitous discovery.

We managed to squeeze into a space at the very small car park and contemplated the long walk up to the memorial. I discovered later that the memorial lies on Marwick Head, the westernmost point of mainland Orkney. This Vickers pattern 31b Recoil Mk 2 gun salvaged from the deck of HMS Hampshire lay at the beginning of the path:-

Deck Gun from HMS Hampshire

Memorial from path at top of cliff:-

Kitchener Memorial, Orkney From Path

Memorial close:-

Kitchener Memorial

Kitchener Memorial Plaque:-

Kitchener Memorial Inscription

Much more recently a memorial wall to those who died on HMS Hampshire has been erected on the site. This shows its proximity to the Kitchener Memorial:-

HMS Hampshire Memorial Wall

Unfortunately the memorialised names do not stand out well in this photo:-

HMS Hampshire Memorial Wall

The HMS Hampshire memorial wall also commemorates the HM Drifter Laurel Crown lost off Marwick Head in June 1916:-

HMS Hampshire + HMS Laurel Crown Memorial

Orkney Ferries

We made the crossing to Orkney from Gills Bay in Caithness via the Pentland Ferries’ catamaran the Pentalina. It skelped along at a fair pace:-

Pentalina

Landfall was at St Margaret’s Hope, South Ronaldsay, the third largest settlement in Orkney:

St Margaret's Hope,  South Ronaldsay, Orkney

Closer view of the town:-

St Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay Closer View

This is the Northlink Ferries’ ship Hamnavoe in Hoy Sound on its way from Stromness to Scrabster:-

Hamnavoe in Hoy Sound

This video (click on picture to get to my flickr to play it) shows the Hamnavoe steaming through Hoy sound with Hoy in background. Unfortunately I zoomed in and as a result the focus went awry:-

Hamnavoe in Hoy Sound

HMS Vanguard Memorial

One hundred years ago today, on 9th July, 1917, just before midnight, HMS Vanguard, a St Vincent class dreadnought, suddenly blew up while at anchor in Scapa Flow, Orkney. 843 of the 845 men on board died.

This memorial to the ship and those who died in the explosion lies in the Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness on the island of Hoy, Orkney, which we visited on our recent visit there.

HMS Vanguard Memorial, Lyness, Hoy

Stromness

Stromness (the name is derived from the Norse Straumsnes [headland protruding into the tidal stream]) is Orkney’s second biggest town but that doesn’t mean it’s big. It has just under 2,200 residents.

It has a brilliant Art Gallery called the Pier Arts Centre with several works by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Stanley Cursiter among others. Well worth a visit – and it’s free.

Stromness Museum does have an entry charge but the ticket gives you entry for a week. It is also interesting with exhibits covering Stromness’s sailing hostory and from the Grand Scuttle of 1919 but also many examples of stuffed animals etc that may nowadays be frowned upon.

Here’s a view I took of North Stromness from the hills above:-

North Stromness

In this one most of the town is hidden under the brow of the hill but part of the harbour can be seen with Scapa Flow in the background beyond:-

Stromness from North-east

Both in the previous photo and the one below of Stromness from the south the Northlink Ferries ship ferry Hamnavoe can be seen docked at the terminal. (The picture on the link is no longer accurate. The ferry company has a newer livery now.) Quite often when we walked down into the town along by the harbour the Hamnavoe would be there. Hamnavoe is an old name for Stromness, meaning peaceful harbour.

Stromness from South

Looking south from Stromness, Scapa Flow in left distance:-

Looking South from Stromness

The High Street and those leading off it are very narrow. High Street:-

High Street, Stromness

This one is quite cheekily named Khyber Pass:-

Khyber Pass, Stromness

More Orkney

We had hired a cottage in (well, up above) Stromness for a week.

This was the view northwards(-ish.) Stitch of two pictures:-

View From Cottage, Stromness

The cottage complex. Ours was one of the middle ones. it was very well appointed. Other people came and went through the week:-

Holiday Cottage in Stromness

View south from cottage:-

View South From Cottage

Orkney is quite far north and so the nights never really get dark in summer. The second evening we were there (Sunday 4th June 2017) I took this one of the western sky very late on:-

Evening Sky, Stromness, Orkney

This was just after midnight the next night, so early morning of Tuesday 6th June, 2017. Looking north:-

Midnight Sky, Stromness, Orkney

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