|30 November 2008
Another busy year for archaeology on Orkney
The 2008 summer archaeological season in Orkney was full of activity. Excavations included the continuation of investigations at Stronsay, Wyre, Ness of Brodgar, The Cairns, Notland Links and Skaill Bay and a 'rescue excavation' in Eday. Trenches were re-opened from a previous dig at the Ring of Brodgar and an initial investigative season at the Brough of Deerness was undertaken.
The Mesolithic site at Links House, Stronsay funded by Historic Scotland; Orkney Islands Council; Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) through field walking and excavation, has produced over 10,000 pieces of flint, including tools and evidence for on-site knapping activity. Naomi Woodward (Site Director/ORCA) says: "The Links House flint assemblage represents the largest collection of material for this period in Orkney and also the nature and extents of the feature evidence at the site is unparalleled within this region." A further season of excavation is planned for 2009.
Excavation at the early Neolithic site on Wyre continued and Antonia Thomas (Site Director/Orkney College) describes the extent of the large site, which has yielded eight polished stone axes so far and thousands of pieces of pottery, flint and stone tools. "Fieldwork has uncovered a series of dwellings and an extensive working area spread over several hundred square metres, all apparently dating to the Early Neolithic," said Antonia. "Although there are only 17 people living on Wyre today, this is the lowest the population has ever been in historic times, and it would seem that the island was home to a thriving farming community several thousands of years ago."
The re-opening of previous trenches at the Ring of Brodgar (directed by Dr Jane Downes, Orkney College and Dr Colin Richards, Manchester University) provided insight into the construction of the ditch surrounding the standing stone circle. The results of scientific dating of the ring, assumed to be Neolithic, are awaited. Nearby the Neolithic settlement at the Ness of Brodgar (directed by Nick Card, ORCA) was under continued excavation and each season adds to the understanding of the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' World Heritage area.
At Links of Notland on Westray an excavation (directed by Graeme Wilson and Hazel Moore, EASE Archaeology) continued on the prehistoric site whilst at the Cairns excavation on South Ronaldsay, a large Iron Age settlement thought to be occupied between 400 BCE to 400 CE was further explored. Martin Carruthers (Site Director, Orkney College) explains: "This season's work focussed on later Iron Age buildings that have been constructed into and over the top of the remains of a very substantial 'Atlantic roundhouse' or broch-like building. Finds have included copper alloy pins, weaving combs, spindle whorls, large pottery sherds and a stone mould for casting metal ingots."
Source: Janis Mitchell for 24 Hour Museum (28 November 2008)
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