RePlace 6 Hoxa and Balfour WW2 Batteries 20 May 2012

The Hoxa and Balfour Batteries are very evocative of World War Two as they overlooked (and defended) Scapa Flow, crucial harbourage for the Home Fleet. As with Lyness on Hoy, it is easy to imagine service personnel working round these sites on what must have been a difficult posting. A good place to bring this RePlace project to its end, with the most recent archaeology in Orkney.

A small, but very satisfying, deposit, supervised by Hoxa yarn-wife. Not easy to undertake because this is a popular place on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the tourist season (it took two attempts to complete).

I shall be sailing past this spot tomorrow morning as I depart on the ferry to Gill’s Bay. I shall  lookout for the unmistakable outline of the concret blocks scattered in anything but haphazard fashion across the headland.


N 58 degrees 49.276′

W 003 degrees 02.078′

Thank you to all who have helped with the project. The blog will continue once I have returned home, so please come back.


Coordinates RePlace 2(b) North Ronaldsay

Getting there with the GPSr!

Coordinates for the second North Ronaldsay deposit (the second sheep enclosure):

N 59 degrees 21.328′

W 002 degrees 24.136′


RePlace Wideford Hill 20 May 2012

Early morning deposit made close to Wideford neolithic burial mound,  not far from the famed Maeshowe chambered cairn and of similar construction.

The view from the hillside is fabulous and it demanded to be one of the  locations for the RePlace project.

A strange feature is a gate to nowhere (it has a fence one side but not the other) near the path to the mound. It is now being supervised by Wideford yarn-wife, who has a shawl to keep her warm in this breezy spot.



RePlace 4 (eggs) Brodgar 19 May 2012

This deposit involved returning soil to Brodgar in the form of one unfired and several low-fired eggs, accompanied by the Brodgar yarn-wife, taking back re-worked soil to the specific area from which it originated.

The clock is ticking on this installation particularly because of the inclusion of unfired clay, which will not withstand rain or dew without alteration.


N58 59.22′

W 003 14.45′

The nearby Ring of Brodgar (plus the neolithic complex at the Ness of Brodgar) is part of the World Heritage Site in Orkney of major international importance. It is very impressive, sitting in a bowl of low hills with water on either side, the high hills of Hoy forming a backdrop.

The deposit itself consists of nine eggs in felted pouches (made in Orkney from wool of locally raised sheep), dangling from a farm gate by the Loch of Stenness.

RePlace 3 Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island in the far northwest of Orkney Mainland, and given our land-centric view of society it is a surprising place to find so much evidence of human habitation – perhaps even the remains of a sauna.  It is the site of Pictish and Norse settlements, preferring the seaways to get about, rather than the toil of moving around on land.

The first image shows the remains of the Norse church on the Brough.

The site for this deposit is a cleft at the far side of the island from the settlements, where the replaced material is so unobtrusive it is difficult to pick it out in the image.


N 59 degrees 08.265′

W 003 degrees 20.013′

The Birsay yarn-wife is bright enough (picture of her before setting off for the north west) but even she merges with the stone and lichen in the cleft.

RePlace 2(c) North Ronaldsay

Actually, the weather did improve on North Ronaldsay, and the third part of the day’s ‘deposit’ was on the shore – again, part of the flock escaped the yarn-wife’s attention.

Coordinates to follow as soon as the GPSr decides to cooperate.