Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Island 280 - Knowe of Skea, Westray, Orkney

The Knowe of Skea is a small tidal island off the south west coast of Westray at Berst Ness.  It is probably only inaccessible at high spring tides. It is about 150 metres in diameter and is 12 metres above sea level at its highest point.

There is a waymarked path down to the beach at Mae Sand from the farm at Langskaill.  Thankfully most of the path is fenced off from the over curious cows.  Once you reach the beach it is a short stroll along the beach and then up onto the low grass covered cliffs on the outside of the fields.  The short rocky causeway between Westray and the Knowe of Skea is mainly seaweed free and easy to negotiate.

Knowe of Skea is covered in grass and when I visited in June 2015 buttercups, clover, thrift, bird's foot trefoil and daisies were all in flower.  There were also a few patches of nettles.  There were plenty of seabirds to be seen around the island - black guillemots, terns, fulmars, various gulls, oystercatchers, ducks - and a few seals.

There is a mound on the top of Knowe of Skea, which is thought to be the remains of an Iron Age funerary complex. Hundreds of graves were found during archaeological excavations in 2004 and 2006.  There is also evidence of metalworking on the island. The site is beginning to be eroded by the sea.

Mae Sand

Knowe of Skea from Mae Sand

Mae Sand from Knowe of Skea

Looking north up the west coast of Westray from Knowe of Skea

Funerary complex on Knowe of Skea

Archaeological site on Knowe of Skea

Bakie Skerry off the south coast of Knowe of Skea

Westray from Knowe of Skea - tidal causeway

Knowe of Skea from Westray

1 comment:

  1. I long to know where my last name is from. Maybe someday I'll get here. Thank you for the photos and the information. Patricia Mary Skea