Eday carved stone is “beautiful” find

The decorated stone unearthed at Green, Eday. (BEVARS)

It’s been quite a summer of Neolithic “art” in Orkney.

Not only did the Ness of Brodgar yield another 15 examples, but now Eday can boast one of their very own.

Following last year’s trial excavation, a team of archaeologists are back in Eday investigating the site of a Neolithic settlement at Green, on the south coast of the island.

The archaeologists from BEVARS (British Excavation Volunteers and Archaeological Research Society), led by Mick Miles, are spending four weeks on the site.

Around the middle of last week the team uncovered an incised stone bearing some similarities to the symbol stone from Pool, Sanday. Expert advice has now, however, confirmed a likely Neolithic date.

Nick Card, projects director at the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) was delighted to hear of the Eday team’s discovery.

Commenting this week, he said: “I can certainly see that it has similarities with the Pool Stone, however, it reminds me of another similar stone from Eday, discovered in the 1980s. The stone also seems to display ‘proto’ double spirals as on some of the Pierowall stones. It’s a beautiful find.”

Other finds so far include a miniature axe head and a polished knife, possibly a re-used fragment from a broken axe.

The work carried out so far this year has uncovered more of Structure One. The presence of grooved ware pottery indicates that this is a probable Neolithic building with walls around 1.5 metres thick. The building has been extensively truncated by later activity and only the lower courses of stonework survive, but this has not prevented the team from discovering much more about the site.

It is now known that there were at least two separate phases for the structure and that there were probably two rooms within the building. There are two hearths, sitting in the middle of a relatively well-preserved occupation layer. This is rich in charcoal and it is hoped that this will provide good radiocarbon dates for the site.

Outside Structure One, there is evidence of stonework beneath midden material and the possible Structure Two, noted in 2007, has been confirmed as a wall of a probable building.

Only a small part of this is visible in the present trench and this will be investigated more fully at a later date.

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