A ‘lesser’ wall in name only

Structures below the "Lesser Wall" (ORCA)

Work resumed on the “Lesser Wall of Brodgar” in the summer  of 2010 and by the time its base was reached, it was “lesser” in name only.

A trench in the garden of the adjoining property, Lochview, south-east of the main trench, revealed the outer face of the wall, which has survived to 1.7 metres, with a flagstone pathway along its base.

 The incredibly masonry of the wall’s outer face had to be seen to be believed.

“The sheer beauty of the stonework leaves everyone who has seen it with a sense of awe and wonder,” said Nick.

“What a sight would have greeted the Neolithic people as they approached the Ness from the Standing Stones of Stenness — they too must a felt the same sense of wonderment we feel today.”

But there was more.

Although it had been expected that the paving at the foot of the wall would be sitting on boulder clay or bedrock – to provide a stable foundation, as in the case of the “Great Wall of Brodgar” — it appears the wall was built on top of older archaeology.

Nick explained: “When a section of the paving was removed, it revealed rich midden deposits under the paving and a wall line that seem to extend below the Lesser Wall. So we have structures, and occupations, that predates the Lesser Wall, on which it was built.

“This came as something of a surprise since there was no obvious subsidence associated with the Lesser Wall, unlike other structures on site that have been built over earlier structures — it seems as straight and vertical today as the day it was built!

“To have discovered earlier structures on site should have come as no surprise, as both the original test pitting and some of the geophysical surveys indicated a huge depth of archaeology on site. How this revelation fits into the overall site interpretation we have yet to fully fathom.”