Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I’ve mentioned the excavations of the Ness of Brodgar site on a couple of occasions. Situated on the strip of land between two lochs and between the famous Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness as well as the nearby Maes Howe, work started there in earnest in 2007 after earlier digs in 2004 had hinted at something major.
I confess that through pressure of work I’d rather lost touch with the latest developments until I caught a TV programme on the BBC last night. Neil Oliver, well known for the Coast programme and a series of Scottish history programs, is actually an archaeologist and in this special edition of A History of Ancient Britain: Orkney’s Stone Age Temple he outlines the astonishing discoveries that have been made on this site in the last few years. If you are in a country that can view the BBC iPlayer I urge you to take a look http://bbc.in/s0dYWK while it’s still available to view. This could well be THE most important stone age discovery, eclipsing everything else on Orkney (which takes some doing!) and even the Stonehenge and Avebury complex.
If you can’t see the program then take a look at the Orkneyjar site – particularly http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/nessofbrodgar/ andÂ http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/tag/ness-of-brodgar/Â and for a couple of panoramas of the dig site try http://www.kenstuart.com/fp/Aerial.htmlÂ andÂ http://www.kenstuart.com/fp/Structure10.html
The discoveries are too numerous to attempt to list in the slightest detail here – a series of complex stone structures which suggest a temple complex which may have been associated with ancestor worship, two large (2 metre wide) walls which appear to have run the width of the Ness and funnelled people into a predetermined path, the first examples of painted neolithic walls in the UK or northern Europe, a number of mace-heads apparently broken deliberately, a number of “dressers” similar to the ones found in domestic areas of Skara Brae but here appearing to be free standing and possibly used as altars, a figurine which has been nicknamed the Brodgar Boy, and a mass of cattle bones which appears to suggest a large ceremonial feast.
There are probably decades worth of work still to be done on the site and an anonymous benefactor has bought the land on which the site stands along with the house for the people of Orkney. I look forward to reading of the discoveries and theories around this site for many years to come.