Ness of Brodgar
The Ness of Brodgar is an archaeological site covering 2.5 hectares, sited between the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.
Excavations at the site began in 2003. These have provided evidence of housing, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic cathedral. The site may have been occupied from as early as 3500 BC to the close of the Neolithic period more than a millennium and a half later.
According to project manager Nick Card, of Orkney College's Institute of Archaeology, the discoveries are unparalleled in British prehistory, the complexity of finds is changing the "whole vision of what the landscape was 5,000 years ago" and "it’s of a scale that almost relates to the classical period in the Mediterranean with walled enclosure and walled precincts". Additionally, according to archaeologists in general, the site could be more important than Stonehenge.
Pottery, cremated animal bones, stone tools and polished stone mace heads have been discovered and in July 2010 a rock coloured red, orange and yellow was unearthed. This was the first discovery in Britain of evidence that Neolithic peoples used paint to decorate their buildings.
A baked clay artefact known as the "Brodgar Boy", and thought to be a figurine with a head, body and two eyes, was also unearthed in the rubble of one structure in 2011.
In 2013 an intricately-inscribed stone was found, described as "potentially the finest example of Neolithic art found in the UK for several decades". A few days later archaeologists discovered a carved stone ball, a very rare find.
The site is normally only excavated for a short period during July and August and visitors are welcome to attend during that time. The 2017 excavation dates have been confirmed as Monday 3rd July until Friday 25th August. Public access and guided tours start on Wednesday 5th July until Wednesday 23rd August. Find out more about visiting the Ness of Brodgar in 2017 via the Visit Orkney website.
You can also learn more about the project from the official website.
A daily dig diary is available to view here and is kept updated during each season.
Outwith the period of the annual dig, this site is covered over to protect it from the elements and prevent deterioration, and so unfortunately there is very little to see.
People from Orkney have made their mark on communities and industries around the world for hundreds of years. From the cold and harsh Canadian winters, to the baking heat of Australia, there are traces of Orcadian history everywhere. Here are just some of our famous adventurers.More
You may have heard the saying that if you scratch the surface of Orkney, it bleeds archaeology.More
Orkney has had more than its fair share of writers, who were either born or lived in the county. Many drew on Orkney’s landscape, history and people for inspiration and themes. Here, we explore some of our most famous literary figures.More
Orkney's glorious Viking past, with its warlike imagery and tales of saints and earls, remains a visible and important part of island life.More
When local residents leave the islands, whether for a short business trip, a longer holiday or for a permanent move, the chances are they will always run into another Orcadian at some point on their journey. People from Orkney have travelled and settled across the globe for thousands of years, and it's a practice that continues to this day.More
If you arrive in Kirkwall in the days or even weeks leading up to Christmas you might wonder if the town is about to be besieged. Wooden barricades are erected to protect doors and windows as if from some sort of violent attack. The truth is that the barricades are put up to protect buildings from hundreds of bodies that surge through the streets in pursuit of a leather trophy; the Ba’.More