Ness of Brodgar Ness of Brodgar

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.

Another aerial view, showing the scale of the site at the Ness of Brodgar

Another aerial view, showing the scale of the site at the Ness of Brodgar

An aerial view of the Ness of Brodgar

An aerial view of the Ness of Brodgar

The Standing Stones of Stenness

The Standing Stones of Stenness

An overview of the site, which sits on the Brodgar peninsula at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney

An overview of the site, which sits on the Brodgar peninsula at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney

The Ring of Brodgar at sunset

The Ring of Brodgar at sunset

How the Ness site looks out of season, with covers on to protect it from the elements

How the Ness site looks out of season, with covers on to protect it from the elements

The excavation of a painted stone at the Ness of Brodgar

The excavation of a painted stone at the Ness of Brodgar

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.

Inside History

Ness of Brodgar

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