Beach Plumbing

March 16, South Ronaldsay -- A plumber found what appears to be a piece of a Neolithic chambered tomb on a beach on a Scottish island.

Julie Gibson, the Orkney County archaeologist, said that the carved stone must have been buried and exposed by recent storms. The carvings on soft sandstone would not have survived centuries in the water.

David Barnes said he thought when he first spotted the stone at Sandwick Bay on South Ronaldsay in the Orkneys that it had simply eroded in an interesting way. Then he realized that the circular markings were manmade.

"This piece is really a once-in-50-years discovery," Gibson said. "I was very pleased to find out David really had such a piece of Neolithic art. It's not something that happens every day."

Gibson believes that the stone, carved as long as 6,000 years ago, was part of a chambered tomb.

Highland Fling

American whisky expert Paul Pacult named Highland Park 18 year old single malt whisky the best spirit in the world, judged against spirits across the globe.

The accolade was announced in the latest edition of the US drinks publication Spirit Journal 100 listing of the world’s best 100 distilled spirits.

Birmingham families ship out to the Orkneys

Bustling Brum may be the country's Second City but it seems workers tired of the rat race are deserting the city in favour of the simple life on the weather-beaten islands off Scotland's north coast.

More than one in seven people who moved to the capital, Kirkwall, in the second half of last year were from Birmingham, according to new figures. Orkney Islands Council deputy leader James Stockan said he was not surprised families were tempted by the lifestyle on offer.

"Orkney has been assessed as probably the best place to live for well-being in Scotland and there has been quite a lot of migration here in the last five years, we have a very low crime rate and lots of people have come for a better way of life. The only problem we have is the weather!" he said.

Monster of the Deep

Orkney angler Peter "Jocky" Robertson won the club's three-day weekend competition with the help of a big conger.

It might not be a monster in the conger world but, at 13lb 7oz, it's still a significant fish because it is a new record for the Orkney Shore Anglers Club.

Takahiro Kondo

Acclaimed ceramic Japanese artist Takahiro Kondo's "Orkney Monolith" series incorporates his unique gintekisai ( “silver mist”) overglaze and luminous layers of cast glass. Each piece in the Orkney Monolith series stands between four and a half and six and a half feet in height and is covered with Kondo’s distinctive gintekisai overglaze.

The technique coats the porcelain surface with tiny droplets of a precious alloy of gold, silver, and platinum (representing “water out of fire”), which catch and refract light, mimicking the appearance of rain-drenched stone.

The works, which recall the ancient standing stones found throughout Scotland’s Orkney Islands, go on display in the U.S. (New York), for the first time this month.