Not a walk in the Park!

Archaeology takes many forms- something I am becoming more aware of since joining NOSAS (North of Scotland Archaeology Society). Last weekend we ventured to the area around Helmsdale to investigate some archaeological sites. One of which was a hill fort on top of Ben Griam Beg. At less than 2000 feet a mere pimple on the Highland landscape.

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Yes that’s the wee pimple up behind the cottage. From where we left the cars to the top it was 6km ‘as the crow flies’, and there was definitely a few times I wished I could have sprouted wings!

The walk to the cottage was pretty easy going and covered about half the distance. It was a beautiful day and a perfect place to stop to refresh ourselves before the ‘push’ to the top.

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The cottage was uninhabited but is used by various people employed by the estate and also as a holiday cottage from time to time. Inside one of the outbuildings there was an interesting record of some of shepherds and workers who had been there.

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Refreshed with coffee and chocolate we started the second, more demanding stage. Before too long we had broken into 3 groups. The super-fit mountain goats, the fit folk and the ‘OMG what on earth gave me the idea to sign up for this’ group. I was in the last group and it was a definite wake up call to do something about my lack of fitness especially as most of the people in the other groups were older than me!

After a lot of huffing and puffing and catching our breath stops, we reached the top!

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and joined the others for lunch.

The purpose for the climb was to examine the wall structures. Although, Ben Griam Beg is listed as the highest hill-fort in Scotland there is some debate about whether it really is a hill-fort. We, especially the more knowledgeable archaeologists among us, were to look at the evidence and put forward our opinions on the matter.

There were definitely a lot of stone walls to consider

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and an interesting stone in one of the walls which definitely looked like it had been used to  grind meal (?) in.

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After a good look around and much discussion the ‘jury was still out’ on whether it had been a fort but most people doubted it. However, no-one could come up with a satisfactory explanation for all the wall structures. More information about the supposed hill-fort can be found at http://canmore.org.uk/event/651911

 

Although it had been a slog to get to the top it had been worth it. It is definitely an interesting site whatever it is.  I was also blessed with a close viewing of a female ptarmigan with 2 chicks and a hare- both now in their summer colours. Some lovely flowers were also starting to bloom in the rocky, heather landscape.

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Yes, it might not have been a ‘walk in the park’ to climb Ben Griam Beg but I’m so glad I didn’t give up and made it to the top. That evening I really felt I had earned my large portion of chips and battered stuffed jalapeño peppers at the well-known La Mirage restaurant in Helmsdale. Washed down with a glass of wine, of course!

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Interesting light in La Mirage restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

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Off with their heads!

Yesterday I walked to the compound shop and was cheered up by the grassy area outside the shop. The whole area was a beautiful carpet of yellow and orange daisy-type flowers – an uplifting sight:) I had my phone with me so took a few pix.

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Today as I approached the shop I could hear the sound of a lawnmower and my heart sank- as I got closer my fears were indeed confirmed – the daisies were no more- they had fallen foul of the grass cutting gardener.

In my Saudi Garden!

From my window this morning I was cheered up by the sight of this beautiful iris that had just opened up.

20130323-222253.jpgI grabbed my camera to go out and practise the use of macro photography. I was enjoying taking the various flowers that have recently started blossoming with the warmer weather when my gardener called me to come and look at what he had found in the back garden. Curious I followed him thinking perhaps it was a locust or praying mantis and was surprised to find …..a tortoise!

20130323-222803.jpgI know a few people who keep tortoises so set off on my bike to visit them to find out if it belonged to them. Nothing definite came out of this so I posted a photo on my Facebook page and a post on the compound Facebook page and soon had a few more suggestions. Meanwhile I gave tortie some tomato, water and peas which ‘he’ chomped into with great gusto! An hour ago he was picked up by Sarah our compound animal rescue person who is going to house him with her tortoises until his true home can be found. A reasonably happy ending:)