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17 October 2017
New exciting discoveries at the Ness of Brodgar dig

This year at the Ness Brodgar excavation in Orkney (Scotland), two remarkable finds were made. The first discovery being that of an incense pot as well as a 'butterfly-like' motif on a stone. The incense pot was found by a volunteer on the dig and confirmed by Claire Copper, an MPhil from the University of Bradford.
     This vessel is one of five discovered in the British isles, with other examples having been found near Stonehenge and in Dorset. The vessel is described by Miss Copper as having "a slightly 'waisted' profile, shallow-dished upper surface". The pots themselves are associated with the disposal of bodies in either burials or cremations.
     This find also coincides with the aforementioned 'butterfly-like' motifs discovered on a stone as the sunlight hit it just perfect. The stone carrying the markings were part of wall structure at the site and so faint that they cannot be seen on photographs. Nick Card, director of the Ness of Brodgar site, described the discovery of the motifs as a case of the "right moment and at the right angle".
     In reference to the carvings themselves, Dr. Antonia Thomas, of the University of the Highlands and Islands and expert on Neolithic art, suggested that the carving may have become animated as the sunlight hit them and may even have had pigment rubbed into the carvings, which have long since been lost.
     The dig has also uncovered Neolithic buildings, artwork, pottery, animal bones, and stone tools at the Ness of Brodgar, the location of the Ring of Brodgar standing stones. Other finds also include a Roman coin at the location of a Neolithic chambered tomb, Iron Age roundhouses, and Pictish buildings.
     The dig is being led by the University of the Highlands as well as the Island Archaeology Institute with support from the Ness of Brodgar Trust.

Edited from BBC News (19 and 22 July 2017), Ness of Brodgar Trust (20 Juy 2017)

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