Second rare burial unearthed at Minehowe

With only days to go in this year’s archaeological excavations at Minehowe, a second Iron Age burial has be

Picture: Sigurd Towrie

The second burial discovered at Minehowe.

en found at the Tankerness site.

The latest find follows last year’s discovery of a woman buried under the floor of a metalworking structure that has been the focus for the past few years.

The fact that two burials have turned up on the site is particularly significant as Iron Age burials in Scotland, let alone Orkney, are rare.

Found buried into rubble outside this building, the remains may be contemporary with the 2004 skeleton. Their discovery once again hints at ritual practices surrounding the “mystical” nature of metalworking in the Iron Age.

The woman buried in the floor, was found to be lying on her back, hands by her sides, with a piece of decorated antler lying on her chest. She also wore a decorative toe-ring on each foot.

The body was found at the close of excavations, as one of the archaeologists recording details of a trench through the structure’s wall moved a loose stone. A human skull was visible underneath.

It is hoped that additional local funding will see the excavation extended next week to allow the remains to be extracted.

Co-director of the dig, Orkney College’s Jane Downes said: “To find one formal burial was surprising, but to find two is really quite amazing.”

Orkney Archaeological Trust, Historic Scotland and Orkney Islands Council supported this year’s Minehowe excavations.

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