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Wednesday, July 18

Hello! I’m Naomi Woodward, the finds supervisor for the excavations in 2007 at the Ness of Brodgar.

We are three days in to the five weeks of archaeological activity out at the site and are beginning to re-reveal some of the intriguing features which have been excavated over the past years of work here.

Monday greeted us with drizzle and the impending doom of storm clouds, our first day, where the main trench of recent years was cleared of backfilled soil down to the protective covering of plastic.

What was actually hidden beneath this covering was only remotely suggested through various lumps and bumps and hollowed areas. The initial day was a combination of sweat mixed with rain, physical labour, blisters and an eagerness to get to what we knew was already there waiting revealed beneath the tarpaulin.

Neolithic MaceheadHowever, a few surprises along the way helped keep up morale, especially given the weather of Orkney’s ‘summer’.

So, with a new extension area of the original trench J being opened up, there came the find of a large fragment of a broken, polished stone macehead, which was sitting, waiting to be found, buried only in the topsoil (pictured right).

Is this fortuitous start to be a suggestion of the grand things to come this year?

Two new trenches to the west of the existing trench were also opened up on Monday.

This was done to investigate the presence of a monumental stone wall which had been revealed in previous geophysical surveys of the area.

The trenches will give us a greater perspective of the surrounding area, about our first structural finds and aid our understanding of the activity taking place on the whole in this area sandwiched between the already established complexes of Neolithic monumental archaeology which the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site represents.

Picture Sigurd TowrieDay two again brought wet weather but brightened out as the day progressed.

Tuesday saw the much anticipated removal of the plastic sheets in trench J which were lifted allowing all to view the glories of the substantial Neolithic, stone-constructed structure and the remnants of many phases of activity about it (pictured right).

This sudden appearance of quite a substantial site, given its obvious visibility by the road side, must have been of some amusement to the steady stream of coaches who pass back and forth with visitors to Orkney, as it may have appeared as though it was just instant archaeology. But it also meant that finally we had something to actually show our site visitors!

Picture Sigurd TowrieToday, Wednesday, the mechanical digger came in to open a further 20 x 20 metre trench in the south of the site.

This was making light work of the removal of the soil, given the expertise of  its operator, who works in unison with an archaeologist to gauge the depth of which the earth can be mechanically removed.

Here, we hope to look into a structure which appears to have close similarities to structure two at the fully excavated settlement of Barnhouse.

Almost immediately, and from only a reasonably shallow depth of excavation, elements of many stone walls were appearing, offering only more possibilities to explore the nature of archaeological activity at the Ness of Brodgar.

Picture Sigurd Towrie

The Ness of Brodgar
Orkney's World Heritage Site
The Ring of Brodgar
Archaeology around the Ness of Brodgar
The Standing Stones of Stenness
The Barnhouse Settlement
Orkney Archaeological Trust
Orkney College
Historic Scotland