Trial Eday dig confirms Neolithic remains

Landowners Chris Squires and Peter Mason helping out with a spot of trowelling. (Mick Miles)

A trial excavation in Eday has confirmed the presence of at least one Neolithic structure at Green, on the south coast of the island.

The work saw an 8×4 trench opened to reveal the underlying archaeology.A team of four archaeologists was led by Mick Miles, freelance archaeologist and tutor in archaeological fieldwork with Birkbeck College, London.

Results from the dig confirmed the presence of a Neolithic building in the form of a wall about 1.5 metres thick and some internal structural stonework. These include a probable hearth and upright on-edge stones, typical of compartmentalisation within Neolithic buildings in Orkney.

There were also indications of the presence of a possible second structure in the form of further walling.

Finds from the ploughsoil included a quantity of worked stone implements including over 80 ‘Skaill knives’ – a type of stone tool first noted at Skara Brae, in Sandwick. About 100 prehistoric potsherds were also recovered, which will help refine the dating of the site.

The site was first discovered, in 2004, by the landowners Peter Mason and Chris Squires. The Orkney College Geophysics Unit then carried out a survey of the field in 2006, which suggested extensive archaeological remains.

The excavation was commissioned by the landowners and was carried out between the August 19 and 31. Plans are currently being made for the team to return for a second, more extensive, season of work at the site next year.

  • The dig was funded by Mick Miles and Diana Coles. Peter Mason and Chris Squires provided accommodation, food, tools and other facilities.


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