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12 May 2013
Neolithic Scotland investigations

A research project undertaken between 1994 and 2003 examined the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age occupation around the Bay of Firth in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland (3700 to 2200 BCE), resulting in a number of settlements being located and excavated. Although this project is currently being written up, two new sites have been discovered - one at the Braes of Smerquoy, the second at Redlands.
     The Redlands site - a low mound in the south-western part of the field - has been known for several years, and flint, stone and pottery has been collected. Further investigations involved dividing the ground into 5 metre squares and carefully picking up all the visible archaeological material. An astonishing variety of material was found, including polished stone axes and chisels, flint tools and pottery - even part of a bronze wrist band. Together, the material shows the settlement to have been occupied for well over a thousand years, from around 3300 to 2000 BCE.
     The second part of the investigation involved a geophysical survey, measuring differences in the magnetic field. To great surprise, the image of a 5000 year old settlement appeared. Circular houses can seen, and the entire settlement appears to be surrounded by a ditch or wall. Apart from the great wall enclosing the Ness of Brodgar settlement, nothing like this has been seen surrounding a late Neolithic settlement in Orkney before.

Edited from Orkney Archaeology Society (May 2013)

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