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3 July 2010
Orkney Venus dig resumed

Excavations have resumed at the Links of Noltland, in Westray (Orkney, Scotland), which last year revealed the Orkney Venus figurine, the earliest carving of a human figure found in Scotland. This season will focus on further excavation of the figurine building and also allow the team to investigate the unusual building that has cattle skulls placed within the wall foundations.
     Historic Scotland Senior Archaeologist Richard Strachan is managing the project. He said: "The project is reaching a very exciting phase, as we race against the wind to recover the archaeological remains of the extensive settlement extending for around a thousand years from the late Neolithic to the Bronze Age. We are concentrating on further defining the enigmatic and unique cattle skull building, uncovered at the end of last season, and in the coming weeks we will be reaching the floor surfaces of the figurine building. This represents an exceedingly rare opportunity to excavate a Neolithic building to primary contexts using modern archaeological techniques."
     Hazel Moore of EASE Archaeology added: "What we have found so far has shed a lot of light on the way that the people living here farmed and dealt with the conditions. We have soil and bone specialists working with us and hopefully that will allow us to clarify the diet of the animals kept here and determine how domesticated they were. It is clear that the people who farmed here worked hard, but beads and other adornments we have found also show that there was leisure time that they spent making things like coat pins, very similar to the shape of toggles that you still see on duffle coats, which gives us an even better insight into what it would have been like to live on Westray in 2600 BCE."

Sources: The Scotsman (29 June 2010), Orkneyjar (30 June 2010)

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