Friday, 12 September 2014

Letter from the Orkney MONDAY: BRING ON THE BROUGH

A brough is a fortified house (Romans and Picts) used by several waves of settlers from the 1BC onwards to AD 1 - 800. The idea being that under attack the entire settlement and livestock would barricade themselves inside the brough and mount a spirited defence.

The brough of Gurness at the northeastern coast of Orkney is very exciting. It’s plan, well preserved, gives one a real sense of the community and its way of living. It was a big settlement and its central tower was estimated to be 30 metres high at the time of its occupation.

Sun breaks though and plays cat and mouse with the clouds for the rest of the day, colouring the soft landscape, farms and sheds, turning the late harvest cornfields almost white.

The Brough of Birdsay was more popular. There is not so much to see at Birdsay but the location is spectacular. Whilst we were there we were blessed with a coach party from Preston.

“I’ve never seen white seaweed like that Phillip”
“I know, I’d have some o’that on ma garden, you coming?”
“I think not, I’ve got a funny disc and if I twist the wrong way”
“When you’ve got two new knees you have to be careful too”

Birdsay reached by a causeway, which at low water is a five-minute walk onto Birdsay.  It’s a steep walk up to the brough and further still to a lighthouse, perched on the north side of the ‘island’ above 45 metre cliffs.

Home to tea after a good tour, tea and colouring in my drawings made en route.

Brough-tastic Gurness

Birdsay: Blessed with a coach from Preson

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Thank you very much for your comments - Tim