A day tour of Rousay

by Stuartbarbara April. 17, 2019 185 views
We headed off yesterday for a day long tour of Rousay, the island immediately north of Mainland. Our morning departure is from Tingwall, a fishing village with ferry service

We headed off yesterday for a day long tour of Rousay, the island immediately north of Mainland. Our morning departure is from Tingwall, a fishing village with ferry service

The ferry runs back and forth, a twenty minute trip. Cars actually back on and drive off the ferry. We just walked on and our tour guide met us on Rousay. Paddy McGuire, an Irishman who has lived for many years on Rousay and was highly recommended. Excellent tour, if you ever get the chance!

The ferry runs back and forth, a twenty minute trip. Cars actually back on and drive off the ferry. We just walked on and our tour guide met us on Rousay. Paddy McGuire, an Irishman who has lived for many years on Rousay and was highly recommended. Excellent tour, if you ever get the chance!

We drove around the island, counter clockwise. The view here is across to the small island of Egilsay, with St Magnus church. Magnus was a Viking earl who had arranged to meet his cousin Earl Hakon to organize a peace treaty. Hakon had other ideas and murdered Magnus.

We drove around the island, counter clockwise. The view here is across to the small island of Egilsay, with St Magnus church. Magnus was a Viking earl who had arranged to meet his cousin Earl Hakon to organize a peace treaty. Hakon had other ideas and murdered Magnus.

The hills of Rousay are naturally terraced. We were told this was glacial retreating from the last ice age.

The hills of Rousay are naturally terraced. We were told this was glacial retreating from the last ice age.

From the promontory on the north side of the island, we saw Westray, the next island north, in the misty distance. Too bad it was not a clearer day

From the promontory on the north side of the island, we saw Westray, the next island north, in the misty distance. Too bad it was not a clearer day

After a nice picnic lunch, inside the vehicle on such a windy day, we continued around the west slope of the island. The land here has not been ploughed in over 200 years but you can still clearly see the demarcation of the tenant farmers’ fields. Now sheep keep it trimmed

After a nice picnic lunch, inside the vehicle on such a windy day, we continued around the west slope of the island. The land here has not been ploughed in over 200 years but you can still clearly see the demarcation of the tenant farmers’ fields. Now sheep keep it trimmed

We arrived at the most amazing part of the trip. At Midhowe, on the southwest side of the island are incredible archaeological sites. We did climb down to those site, and then back up! Good exercise!

We arrived at the most amazing part of the trip. At Midhowe, on the southwest side of the island are incredible archaeological sites. We did climb down to those site, and then back up! Good exercise!

This looks like a large barn, with the hay stacked beside it. In fact, it is a 1930s structure to protect the enormous Neolithic tomb about 5500 years old. Whiskey magnet, Walter Grant, financed the archeology and this protective building

This looks like a large barn, with the hay stacked beside it. In fact, it is a 1930s structure to protect the enormous Neolithic tomb about 5500 years old. Whiskey magnet, Walter Grant, financed the archeology and this protective building

This enormous stone structure was 23m long with 12 compartments, probably for collective burial of Neolithic farmers. 25 bodies were discovered within the tomb but it is felt that it was a temporary tomb or for higher ranking individuals. Two thick walls were used around the tomb

This enormous stone structure was 23m long with 12 compartments, probably for collective burial of Neolithic farmers. 25 bodies were discovered within the tomb but it is felt that it was a temporary tomb or for higher ranking individuals. Two thick walls were used around the tomb

From above, you can see the bedrock floor and the compartments. Each compartment would have had a shelf to hold the bodies. The green is in fact lichen growing on the rocks

From above, you can see the bedrock floor and the compartments. Each compartment would have had a shelf to hold the bodies. The green is in fact lichen growing on the rocks

Amazingly impressive stone monument. Must have taken an enormous workforce to erect it

Amazingly impressive stone monument. Must have taken an enormous workforce to erect it

To the west of the tomb are two brochs, Iron Age homes. This one had a natural defence on each side. The ocean directly ahead and narrow channels in the rock to the east and west. The landward side would have had a defensive wall to protect the house. This broch was 2000 years later than the tomb

To the west of the tomb are two brochs, Iron Age homes. This one had a natural defence on each side. The ocean directly ahead and narrow channels in the rock to the east and west. The landward side would have had a defensive wall to protect the house. This broch was 2000 years later than the tomb

The broch would have been two storys high and actually had another level below, almost like a cellar. Again two layers of walls but with rooms and stairways between. Long entrance way for protection

The broch would have been two storys high and actually had another level below, almost like a cellar. Again two layers of walls but with rooms and stairways between. Long entrance way for protection

Inside was a hearth for warmth and cooking and dividing slabs, probably for rooms or family groups.

Inside was a hearth for warmth and cooking and dividing slabs, probably for rooms or family groups.

Outside were slabs of flagstone. They were probably for support, perhaps protection, and maybe building materials for future development. The broch had several smaller buildings attached, perhaps for servants or extended family

Outside were slabs of flagstone. They were probably for support, perhaps protection, and maybe building materials for future development. The broch had several smaller buildings attached, perhaps for servants or extended family

This is a fine example of an Iron Age cupboard. Used for storage or display of important items of the family.

This is a fine example of an Iron Age cupboard. Used for storage or display of important items of the family.

There were two more brochs to the east of the tomb. Also there had been a Viking home, although almost nothing remains of it. Beyond that is the ruin of the church of St Mary’s, a 16th century church for the nearby community of 16th century farms

There were two more brochs to the east of the tomb. Also there had been a Viking home, although almost nothing remains of it. Beyond that is the ruin of the church of St Mary’s, a 16th century church for the nearby community of 16th century farms

Efforts have been made to shore up the ocean side of the church which is in danger of collapsing into the sea. The small grave yard is well maintained

Efforts have been made to shore up the ocean side of the church which is in danger of collapsing into the sea. The small grave yard is well maintained

Our final tomb on the island is called Blackhammer. It was built 4500 years ago. There are many such tombs around Rousay. Only two burial fragments were found, leading to speculation that these tombs were frequently cleaned of human bones and reused. This one has been extensively protected

Our final tomb on the island is called Blackhammer. It was built 4500 years ago. There are many such tombs around Rousay. Only two burial fragments were found, leading to speculation that these tombs were frequently cleaned of human bones and reused. This one has been extensively protected

We returned to the pier and boarded our ferry back to Tingwall. The journey was calm until we turned into the wind! Then the waves whipped up. It was exciting for about five minutes until we docked

We returned to the pier and boarded our ferry back to Tingwall. The journey was calm until we turned into the wind! Then the waves whipped up. It was exciting for about five minutes until we docked

Once back to our Airbnb, we noticed the pigs were out. We gave them some stale bread and are now friends for life

Once back to our Airbnb, we noticed the pigs were out. We gave them some stale bread and are now friends for life

The ram was not so easy impressed. His two top horns are a bit askew. The lower horns have been trimmed.

The ram was not so easy impressed. His two top horns are a bit askew. The lower horns have been trimmed.

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