An archaeologist in Orkney is investigating graffiti etched on a Neolithic cairn on the islands by a Keighley man more than 120 years ago.

Sam W Wells left his mark on the stone, in a tomb at Unstan Cairn, near Stromness, in 1890.

Now Antonia Thomas – who is based at the University of the Highlands & Islands, in Orkney’s capital Kirkwall – is trying to discover more about the “culprit”.

“I am currently researching 19th-century graffiti in Orkney and am trying to discover more about some of the people who carved their names,” she said.

“Through basic census and trade directory searches, I have been able to ascertain that Mr Wells was a brass and iron foundry owner in the town, but why he made his way to Orkney in 1890 remains a mystery. Did he have friends up here? Was he on business, or was he a tourist?”

She said she had found a reference from 1902 to a Sam Wells, of Keighley, donating a collection of fossils to Stanbury Board School, but she had discovered little more.

Through Keighley Library, Antonia contacted historian Ian Dewhirst – who compiles the Memory Lane column for the Keighley News – and he was able to shed some further light on Mr Wells.

His full name was Sam Watson Wells and he lived in the Beechcliffe area, said Mr Dewhirst.

He was the head of Jonas Wells Ltd – brass, malleable iron and steel founders, of Greengate Works, Keighley – a firm started by his father.

But why did he end up visiting Orkney?

Mr Dewhirst said it was probably down to his well-known prowess as an angler.

“His obituary said that, for many years, he regularly made tours to Scotland and Ireland, so I assume there must be some good fishing in the Orkneys,” he said.

“Apparently he gave thousands of trout fly to angling clubs and private ponds in the Keighley area.”

Mr Wells died in 1918, in his 64th year, at Morecambe, where he spent considerable time in his latter years when he suffered from ill health.

He left a wife, two sons and a daughter.

Antonia thanked Mr Dewhirst for his help and said she would be delighted to hear from anyone else with information.

“I was wondering if Sam Wells carved his name anywhere else locally, such as Ilkley Moor where I believe there is a lot of graffiti from that era as well,” she said.

She can be contacted on Antonia.Thomas@orkney.