Three cool places in one day!

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise there is something on the other side of this gate.

This is Castle Dore, an Iron Age hill fort/defended settlement (the last one 🙁 ) It is interesting for three reasons. First, it is easy to get to. You get off the bus, walk 3 minutes down the road and there’s this well-maintained gate. No trudging along muddy ditches claiming to be paths or clambering up bracken-covered hills.

Second, Dore is associated with the story of Tristan & Iseult* as the main residence of King Mark. There is the slight problem of there being no evidence of the site being inhabited beyond the Iron Age, except for a battle during the civil war in the 17th centure.

(*If you’re not familiar with the story: Iseult, an Irish princess comes to Cornwall to marry the king, Mark, but she falls in love with her nephew Tristan. Adventures ensue. Tristan dies tragically. Remember this, it will come up again.)

Read more

Island Hopping: St Mary’s, the other bit.

Today I walked up to the other other side of St Mary’s. You’ll never guess what I found! OK if you’ve been paying attention you can probably guess.

But first, another entrance grave.

From the English Heritage panel:

Innisidgen Upper Burial Chamber
There are as many as 80 prehistoric chambered tombs known on the Isles of Scilly, but this is one of the best preserved. They are generally of the form known as ‘entrance graves’, and date from the Neolithic or the early Bronze Age. The name ‘entrance grave’ may be misleading, since this type of prehistoric monument is unlikely to have been constructed solely for burial purposes. Such ‘graves’ could also have functioned as shrines or as a focus of ceremonies. . . . Although nothing has been found in this chamber, the walls revealed traces of rough clay mortar, suggesting that it was once plastered and possibly even decorated.

Read more

Chysauster Village & Castle an Dinas

This is Chysauster Village. It’s an Iron Age village. In fact, it’s a Romano-British village from the late first to third centuries. That is a settlement of native Britons (Celts if you want) during the time of the Roman occupation of the islands.

Their village is about ten houses, arranged along a long central space not unlike a street. The houses themselves are built with a central courtyard.

Look at the fog. It’s not just surrounding the site but drifting through it. Like being away in another world.

Read more

Orkney Day 5: The Best Broch

The Broch of Gurness on the coast. It’s about 40 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop, so I’ve included some photos of the land around.

I think this road doesn’t see a lot of use.

The end of the headland is where i am working to. The island in the background is Rousay.

Read more

Orkney Day 2: A Quiet Day In (really)

I declared Sunday a day of rest, and spent the morning sleeping. In the afternoon I intended to just look around at the (mostly closed) shops and maybe wander down to the wet and windy harbour. Nice quiet, easy day. Yep.

I also wanted to go back to the cathedral.

I’d read elsewhere that there was a dead earl buried in the cathedral wall, so I had a look in the cathedral’s leaflet of highlights and there was no mention of any dead earls buried in the wall but I found some other things I’d missed so I went back to look at them.

So the row of different coloured stones at the bottom there is where the dead earl is buried.

Read more

A Morning on Unst

Muness Castle (it’s actually a tower house but it is fortified, possibly to protect him form the locals). Construction started in 1598 for a guy who was half-brother to Robert Stewart, Earl of Orkney, whose son had Scalloway Castle built. (I mention them because they’ll probably come up again.)

The bottom level has a wine cellar, storage rooms & kitchen. The first floor has the great hall (shown here). Although less tony then, and more plastered or timber. The private rooms/chambers are in the turrets, and there was another floor above.

Read more

Clickimin Broch, Shetland

I found another, more intact broch. Clickimin Broch is on the edge of Lerwick, with service station in front and a supermarket across the road, and houses around. Not some remote corner. It was built about 2400-2100 year ago, so about mid-Iron Age. They don’t know who built it or what it was used for or how it originally looked, but it’s very cool.

The broch is on a promontory that was once an island with a causeway.

There’s the causeway.

Read more

A Visit to Lots of Times All At Once

Today we’re visiting a place that calls itself one of the most important prehistoric sites in Shetland. Right there, on the first line of the guidebook. But first a little deour.

Past a cow.

To look at a croft, a small tenant farm. There are two rooms on the left, and a barn and byre on the right. Grass roof.

Read more