Archaeology 6: Gateway to Canada and the Arctic?

20 July 2020
OS map of 1877
OS map from Bing maps

There was a major road from Clestrain to Coldomo. This was the estate’s Gateway to The Arctic. 

Coldomo is a small sandy bay where boats to and from Stromness could beach and tie up. The road from there directly to the Hall of Clestrain was. in it’s time. a super highway.

Photo by Andrew Appleby

Pictured left is just one of a series of beautifully built bridges crossing a cutting and field boundary. The stonework is so reminiscent of the Hall’s style of build.

Photo by Andrew Appleby

The Hall of Clestrain had it’s own nousts and sail house on the shore directly below the Hall. This will have been the estate’s private harbour. The Clestrain to Coldomo Road will have been for public use. It continued on to Orphir round the west side of the west pavilion. Trades-folk will have had direct access to the northern courtyard, where all the farm business will have been done. Who knows what that was? Supplies for the Hudson Bay ships? Bacon, hams, livestock for the voyages, butter, cheeses, preserved eggs. All manner of victuals could have travelled that road for onward shipping to Stromness.

Photo by Andrew Appleby

Just beyond another of these bridges is this iron gate. It swung on the large stones. This too marks a drain cutting and field boundary from a n 18th Century era. The road went on past new the house in the foreground then turned to Coldomo.

Important guests may well have landed at the Hall’s private nousts. Alternatively they might have disembarked at Coldomo and been taken by coach or trap to Clestrain and skirted the west pavilion, arriving at the impressive south facade. Guests from the City of Kirkwall and beyond would have naturally arrived from the south to the large turning circle by the impressive stair.

-written by Andrew Appleby