Archaeology in action!

It has been another summer of amazing archaeology in Orkney - and it’s not over yet!

It has been another summer of amazing archaeology in Orkney - and it’s not over yet!

The project at the Knowe of Swandro in Rousay made the headlines this week with the discovery of a huge stone used as an anvil in what’s thought to be a Pictish coppersmith’s workshop. Incredibly, once the stone had been cleaned up, the finger marks, hand prints and knee marks left behind by the smith around 1500 years ago could still be seen!

The anvil stone, complete with 1500-year-old handprint! Image courtesy of the Swandro-Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust
The anvil stone, complete with 1500-year-old handprint! Image courtesy of the Swandro-Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust

You have to expect the unexpected during the excavation season in Orkney!

The dig at Swandro is beginning to draw to a close for the year, with the last day set for the 3rd of August. It’s a site that is under increasing threat from coastal erosion, perched as it is just behind a rocky beach. It has been another successful season, though – finds this year have included animal bones, a tiny bone comb (possibly from the Viking-era) and a painted Pictish pebble.

This aerial view of the project at Swandro shows just how close to the shore the excavation is
This aerial view of the project at Swandro shows just how close to the shore the excavation is

You still have time to visit the site, but if you can’t make it in 2018, make sure you keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and the official website to find out when proceedings will get underway once again in 2019.

Staying in the north isles and there is plenty of activity in Sanday at the moment. Structures from the Bronze Age and the Neolithic are being excavated at the beautiful beachside locations of Cata Sand and Tresness.

A Bronze Age house is being slowly uncovered close to the ferry terminal at Loth, too. It’s a site that is already providing surprises and puzzling archaeologists! All three digs in the island are open for visits until the 4th of August.

The Loth Road excavation in Sanday - image courtesy UHI Archaeology Institute
The Loth Road excavation in Sanday - image courtesy UHI Archaeology Institute

Meanwhile, the Ness of Brodgar continues to be the focal point of the Orcadian archaeology season. Thousands of visitors have already taken a free guided tour of the sprawling location in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

The most recent find was a decorated stone, discovered earlier this week, featuring a ‘pecked’ design. Only one other stone of its kind has been found at the Ness, but similar examples have also been seen at other digs over the years in Orkney.

The latest decorated stone found at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney - image courtesy Ness of Brodgar Instagram
The latest decorated stone found at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney - image courtesy Ness of Brodgar Instagram

The final tours of the Ness of Brodgar will be held on the 22nd of August, with a special open day planned for the 19th of August. Find out how you can visit the dig for yourself.

If you aren’t already, make sure you follow the Ness of Brodgar on Instagram for daily images from the dig, on Facebook and on Twitter. You can also visit the official website for diaries from each day of digging.

The UHI Archaeology Institute blog is also a great way of keeping up to date with the various projects, excavations and reports from Orkney’s archaeological world. Plan your trip to Orkney with the Visit Orkney website.

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