A couple of weeks back, I was standing near the tail end of the Magazine pool on the south bank of the River Brora. The East Sutherland Canoe club were in action that day, and I was waiting for them to paddle down from further upstream. While I was standing there, I noticed something remarkable and astonishing. It was astonishing because I couldn’t believe I’ve lived here for nearly 50 years and hadn’t noticed this before. I was stunned.
The trees on the bank behind the Rock Pool are planted in a perfect rectangle. As the realisation sank in, I then noticed they were all planted on an ancient wall. In these photos you can clearly see the size of this rectangular site.
*edit Jan 30* – Thanks to Nick Lindsay we now know this was the old coal mine manager’s garden.
In this photo you can see the perfectly straight line of the trees and the line of the ancient wall they were planted on top of.
How can you walk past something like this a thousand times over 50 years and not notice it? Somewhat bewildered, I began to explore the site while waiting for the canoe club to show up. There is archaeology everywhere.
Was this something to do with the Inverbrora coal shaft not far upstream from here? You can see the old coal shaft here. It’s at the end of the embankment across the river. I can remember dropping stones down the old shaft as a kid before it was filled in.
I believe the embankment carried a railway line to carry the coal from the shaft. There is evidence of an old road going up the hill in the photo below. Was this part of the railway line? Was this Rock Pool site part of the coal workings?
Here you can see a corner of the wall.
How come I’ve lived here for 50 years and have never seen this? How come no one has ever mentioned it? Whatever this is, it’s not in living memory, so it’s old, perhaps older than the coal shaft at Inverbrora.
Why would someone plant trees on top of an old wall anyway? If this site is older than living memory, then perhaps it was older than living memory a few generations ago when the trees were first planted. Perhaps someone planted these trees so the memory of this site, whatever it is, wouldn’t be forgotten.
I’ll be running my metal detector over it in the next few days, see if I can find something that can perhaps give us a clue to the date of whatever was going on there. Here’s what I found today. The Gaymers Pear cider and the 1p coin are more recent additions to the ground, but the old rivet looks as if it could have been part of the railway line.