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Ouatic-7
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V+9: Skara Brae, Yet Another World Heritage Site, and the Knowes of Trotty

EDIT 7/1/2006: Pictures have been resized smaller.


It's Thursday morning and I'm feeling broody and mopey. Probably this is because I woke up about 3 and, as far as I could tell, was never able to get back to sleep. Or it maybe lack of alone time. pilgham has had a room to himself at some of the hotels and MD at others. I never will which means I never really have a chance to get away from them. Or it maybe dreading the drive tomorrow to Aberdeen. pilgham wants to take the 11 AM ferry which puts us on the mainland, as opposed to Mainland, at 12:30. He has two stops he wants to make one the way, one of which is a distillery. I feel if we are going to make stops, we should take the 8AM ferry. Or I could still be fretting about pilgham's driving yesterday; no cars in sight and he insists on driving on the shoulder. I was getting cramps from trying to brake. I tried to hold my tongue, as well, but wasn't always successful.  I guess I'm just stressed.[/whine]

We did Skara Brae yesterday and it was pretty cool. The museum is small but well done with what is known clearly differentiated from what is supposed. Apparently, you used to be able to go down into the site. For obvious reasons that is no longer allowed so now they have a replica house you can go in and you just have to peer into the real thing from the perimeter.

Associated with Skara Brae is Skaill House, the finest 17th century mansion in Orkney. As house tours go, MD rated it below the reproduction of Thoreau's cabin but above the Molly Brown house and the Louisa May Alcott house. It was nice because it was self guided, with laminated sheets in each room with the points of interest. Also, the house was occupied up until 1991 and they didn't really try to do period rooms. It was more how it looked this century with all the stuff a family accumulates over a century or two in the same house.

Then we did the Knowes of Trotty. This was pilgham's bright idea from one of his books. It is supposed to be 11 cairns but the map only shows 7. Anyways, remember the car park at Arbor Low? And the money tin? The Knowes of Trotty isn't commercial like that. We drove up to the farm. The farmer got off his tractor and directed us through his barn and across the pasture to the Knowes. The farmer was either mute or just not much of a talker as he never spoke to us. Needless to say there was no path across the pasture. There weren't even signs on the gates reminding us to close them after our selves.

I think the actual Knowes were a disappointment to pilgham. They were all grassed over with not much to see. For some reason MD and pilgham were a bit creeped out by the wind rippling the grass on the cairns.

We also saw St. Magnus Cathedral, 'The  Light in the North'. It was originally a Norse cathedral as Orkney didn't become part of Scotland until 1468 and the cathedral was founded in 1137. It's very handsome in a rugged sort of way.

A passage between houses at Skara Brae. This would have been roofed over.


A room showing th stone furniture. I believe that is a bed at the back, and of course the hearth in the middle. The logo for Skara Brae is a stone etagere.


Two of the cairns at the Knowes of Trotty.


Me at the Knowes.


Interior of St. Magnus Cathedral.


Exterior of St. Magnus Cathedral.





Friday morning... I managed to shake off yesterday morning's mood and had a good day.

Maes Howe is supposed to be a chambered tomb. They think this because of the design but it's larger than any of the other chambered tombs and contained no human bone. It's older than the Great pyramid and they let you go in, no pictures allowed though. You have to go with a Ranger. The inside is covered with viking graffitti ("the finest collection of runic inscriptions outside Scandinavia") and they don't want modern additions. The ranger was very informative.

Once we finished up at Maes Howe we did it was 12:15. A ranger does a guided tour of the Ring of Brodgar (our second stone circle of the day because we did the Stones of Stenness while waiting for our tomb tour.) every day at 1 so we decided to wait for that. The Ranger did an awesome job; she was well worth the wait.

By that time we were all a bit neolithiced out so we headed back to the Kirkwall.

We went to Buster's Diner for dinner last night. It purports to be an American restaurant and we wanted to test its authenticity. They did have a framed dollar bill beside the register. I had "Tortilla Chips with Taco Sauce and Cheese" as a starter. It was quite tasty, or I was very hungry, but I was a bit thrown that it was served in a soup cup. I also had pizza, nothing to exciting there except for some of the toppings I didn't select: Baked Beans, Banana, Chicken Tikka. We hypothesized that chicken tikka and banana could be yummy.

The Stones of Stenness. 4 stones remain of the original 12. It's about a mile from the Ring of Brodgar.


Sheep and some stones (of Stenness) that I'm sure are very significant. I believe one suggestion we heard during the day was they were used for excarnation.


The Ring of Brodgar. 27 stones remain standing of the original 60. It is the 3rd largest ring in the UK after Avebury and some ring I don't recall but it's one I hadn't heard of. The guide talked about the similarity among the stones and suggested itinerant ring architects. I couldn't help but think of the monorail episode of The Simpsons.


MD examining graffitti on a stone.


Some of the graffitti. You don't see work like this nowadays. It took real dedication in the days before spray cans.


We came over the hill above town and this whacking great cruise ship was in the harbor.


Mood: crankyHating Aberdeenshire
Comments

I'll have to wait until you resize the pictures to view them. I just can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

That's so cool that you've been to Skara Brae; that's a place I've always wanted to visit. I never even thought about the fact that the ruins would be closed off, though.

The pictures should be smaller, now.

I was surprised we got to go into Maes Howe.

It is well done. It's easy to see down into them.

Wonderful pics - and you are looking gorgeous!

That cathedral - wow. All that old, fortress-like architecture reminds me of some of the places we visited in Germany and Austria. Good stuff.

Like MD, I am equally impressed by the 1870 graffiti. Some things never change, do they?

I mentioned that the inside of Maes Howe is also covered with Viking graffitti? It includes the runic alphabet twice where one guy apparently had to give his cohorts a quick refresher.

So, yeah, people are people

O has fun when she drives and I cringe. I have fun when I drive and she cringes. Don't really see any way forward from there. She ought to stop worrying.

Through pure luck, the photo of the stones of stenness, the one with two stones, one with a sheep above and one with a hill above, manages to capture the important lne of sight between Stenness and Maes Howe. Maes Howe (thats the hill, not the sheep) is a chambered communal tomb built about 5000 years ago, still in good condition, despite all the viking graffitti. The communal tombs were used to store long bones and skulls of people after they were through with them, although Maes Howe itself did not have any bones in it when excavated.

By the time the Knowes of Trotty were being built, the remains were cremated and built into cairns.

Wow, panoramic pictures! I let the cruise ship scroll and it looked as if it were sailing. I enjoyed the picture of the 1800s grafiti. MD looked impressed. The picture of you was purty but I could only look at one part at time because the pics are very long. Am enjoying the descriptions of place very much. I'd never seen a cairn before. I feel enlghtened!

The picturs are still big? They are supposed to be like 640x450 pixels. Dang!

When I made my comment, they seemed to resize themselves to normal proportions, so I got a good look at them then. *stares at you*

I liked the first ones. The were ::Phoo! Gah!:: level (grass stems before nose) and pleased me mightily. Although I disapprove of taking photos of the faux site. Maybe it's just me.

Do attend to chapter.

The pictures in the post are of the real deal. The fake duplicates the most thoroughly excavated house and includes the roofed over passages to give you more of a feel for what it might have been like to live there.

::Hisses:: Well?