About this time of year for the last few years I've been posting photos from a fantastic archaeological dig in Orkney, the Ness of Brodgar. The BBC have featured the site in various programmes and it has also been featured in the National Geographic magazine. It is quite an extraordinary site, both in size and in the structures and artifacts being discovered.
There is a dig diary here
and for enthusiasts - you can buy a guide book from here
written by Nick Card, dig director, Roy Towers and Mark Edmonds.
The earliest structures at the Ness of Brodgar date from c3,300 to 3,200 BC, and the latest ones around 2,200 BC. So that fits in with the timeline of the other Neolithic sites in Orkney such as Skara Brae, Maes Howe, Tomb of the Eagles, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. The Ness of Brodgar geographically sits between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. In a broader sense in Britain this was BEFORE Stonehenge which dates from c2,500.
I have very little knowledge of archaeology but I just love going along to the site and spending time watching the painstaking work. There is always an air of excitement as each day something new unfolds. Even the "commonplace" is fascinating and tells a story.
Even to my untrained eye it's possible to make out distinct structures....
This is a photo of a structure that has been labelled "The Many Coloured Hall" which has "piers" of stone intruding into the space. Coloured or "painted" stone has been discovered here too. Plastic sheeting and tyres are used to protect areas that are to be explored further.
Around the site are explanations of some of the structures for visitors to get a better understanding of, what to the uninitiated, seems like a pile of stones!
The dig lasts six weeks this year and next, 2 weeks in July and 4 weeks in August. There's lots of activity with archaeology students and experienced archaeologists scraping and brushing and generally have a good "rummage" around in a very ordered way.
Here are a selection of photos of the site....
There are three tours a day at the site led by experts, and a great viewing platform to see the overall site from.
The tours are great, but I also love just stopping by and watching the work progress. I know one or two folk there who stop and chat about what they're doing or what they've found. Archaeologists are a very friendly bunch it would seem!
This lovely lady stopped to show me her latest find. Cattle bones! Dating from about 2,400 BC when it is thought perhaps a great "decomissioing" freast took place where hundreds of cattle were slaughtered and consumed, with bones placed in the surrounding passageways. She was the first person to set eyes on these bones in over 2,000 years, and I saw them soon after! Spine tingling to think I was one of the first people to see them - cattle which would have grazed the land we stood on and looked at the same Hoy Hills we look at today.
A close up - covered in earth, yet to be cleaned, tagged and analysed.
There have been other finds too, This is a replica of a stone ball found on the site - apparently almost exclusively only found in Scotland (so far). It's a very tactile object, but it's purpose is unknown.
And this wee spatula (NOT a replica!). I've got one like this in my kitchen!!
So if you are in Orkney at the end of July or during August 2016 do go along to the site! And if you're not - keep an eye out for the dig diary!