Meet the 2016 team

Nick Card (the BOSS)

I have the great privilege of being in charge of the excavations at the Ness of Brodgar for the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) at the UHI Archaeology Institute.

Having worked in Orcadian archaeology both as student and post graduate and fallen in love with the islands, I permanently moved here circa 25 years ago.

After a chequered career, I returned to archaeology in 1998 just as a department of archaeology was being established, and basically haven’t looked back since.

The Ness is my "sanity clause" that gets out of the office and away from bureaucracy (well most of it!) and out in the field doing what I love most.

Never a day goes by at the Ness when I don’t think what a great honour it is to be excavating here in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney – long may it continue!!!!

Roy Towers

Pottery specialist. I found my first sherd in Scotland, aged nine — it was Roman . . . sorry about that.

I live and work in Orkney and have a history degree and a research MPhil in archaeology from the University of Aberdeen.

I have worked on material from many of the sites in Orkney, from all prehistoric periods, and am one of the very few people on the planet who find Early Bronze Age pot really, really interesting.

The past decade has been spent in the UHI Archaeology Institute lab, in Kirkwall, with mountains of (among others) Ness pot.

How time flies…etc.

At the Ness I assess the pottery as it comes in, partly for post-ex possibilities, shout at tourists twice a day and write the daily site diary.

Best archaeological moment: Discovering how one Ness potter used a new technique to make his/her cordons stick - see Scottish Archaeological Journal, September 2015 issue, for more details - together with Nick.

Worst archaeological moment: Too many, too embarrassing.

Dan Lee

As the Lifelong Learning and Outreach Archaeologist for the UHI Archaeology Institute, I have multiple roles at Ness.

I supervise the original part of Trench P, within and around Structure One.

I’m in charge of training the UHI undergraduate and post-graduate students, who will be joining us from across the UHI network.

I’m also running the Digging up the Past events with the Historic Scotland Rangers for young people to try their hand at archaeology.

I have been working at Ness since 2007 and still have to pinch myself when the covers come off and these spectacular buildings are revealed once again!

Bring on those micro-layers in the floors of Structure One.

Anne Mitchell

I’m Anne Mitchell, finds supervisor for the Ness of Brodgar, and, like the rest of the Ness team, I know I’m immensely privileged to be part of this great excavation.

I have a fine team of volunteers, made up of UHI archaeology student volunteers and more, to work with me and all looking forward to what another year brings.

I’m also getting open days organised, with Sarah Jane Gibbon, on Sunday, July 31, and August 21 – don’t miss what’s on-site or at Stenness Community School either day – and lots of other behind the scenes arranging.

The Ness keeps me busy all year and that makes me very happy!

Neil and Rosemary McCance

We live here in Orkney and can see the Ness of Brodgar dig from our house (but would have a better view if the spoil heap was moved!).

We really enjoy helping the dig by entering data from the site through most of the year and writing small finds bags in winter and spring and, possibly, the summer.

Mai Walker

Hi, my name is Mai Walker and I have been excavating at the Ness of Brodgar for eight years now.

I specialise mainly in prehistoric archaeology. My previous work focuses mainly on theory and experimental archaeology.

I have just finished my MA on looking at Colourscapes within the Mesolithic environment of Star Carr and have been working at
Cotswold commercial archaeology for the past nine months.

Hopefully a PhD will be next 🙂

Tansy Branscombe

In June this year I will be graduating from my undergraduate archaeology degree, based at the University of Cambridge.

Next year, I plan on returning to Cambridge to begin a research master's, investigating shellfish exploitation throughout Croatian prehistory.

My first love will always be the archaeology of Orkney though, where I have had the privilege to live since 2009. Currently, my family are based on the gorgeous island of Papa Westray, happily accompanied by our dogs, chicken, ducks, sheep and alpacas.

This year will be my fifth season at the Ness, since starting back in 2011, and for the most part I am usually based in Structure Twelve.

As ever, I am very keen to get back on site and see what this season has to offer!

Simon Gray

Back at the Ness for another year, though, on this occasion, I'm staying put afterwards to take the MSc at Orkney College.

Having worked as a chef in various capacities and roles over the last five years, it is about time I got back to my first passion, archaeology.

This year on site I will be digging for half of the time and annoying Anne in the finds hut for the remainder, learning about the "dark arts of finds processing"...

Always happy to be at the Ness of Brodgar, its importance and splendour is simply unrivalled in the British Isles, archaeologically, which is why it is always such an honour and privilege to be involved!

Jo Bourne

My name is Jo Bourne and I'm a development editor and writer for a publishing company in London.

I also work as an archaeologist (with a particular interest in the Neolithic) and have excavated in Croatia, Majorca, Libya, the Isle of Man and Kent, where I live.

I'm immensely proud to be part of the team working on the Ness of Brodgar.

This will be my fourth full season and I'm looking forward to a summer of adventure, discovery and extreme weather - both on site and on one of most extraordinary archipelagos of the north.

In an absolute triumph of hope over experience, I will be packing shorts.

Mic Page

I am a graduate archaeologist from Buxton in Derbyshire.

I have been a volunteer on the Ness of Brodgar excavations since 2010. It’s a privilege and a pleasure (weather permitting!) to be a part of such a diverse team of enthusiasts, professional student and amateur, working on the project in a relaxed but busy atmosphere.

There’s always something new to learn or discover and it’s a joy to watch the site revealed year upon year. Good work, good fun and a stunning location.

And, with the help of the folks of Orkney, it’s becoming a seasonal home from home.

Mike Copper

Hi, I’m Mike (a.k.a. Johnny Two-Buckets, on account of an "incident", in 2013, involving more than one bucket) and I am one of the supervisors on the fascinating and enigmatic Structure Ten.

I have been working at the Ness for a number of years now and the excavation season is always a highlight of my year.

As a child I was extremely lucky to be taught by the inspirational teacher and pioneer of archaeology in schools, the late Dr James Dyer, and have had a fascination for prehistory ever since.

In the spring I completed a PhD at the University of Bradford on ceramic variation in the Hebridean Neolithic, but have yet to stop seeing potsherds in my sleep!

When not engaged in excavation or research, I enjoy making reproductions of prehistoric pottery and running on the fells near my home in Yorkshire, while, by way of relaxation I enjoy nothing better than listening to Scandinavian folk-metal at full volume!

Claire Copper

I remember my first archaeology book was "Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt" and my first forays into field archaeology were digging for bits of old pot in my mum’s veggie plot. A lot of mud has gone into the barrow since then.

I have been coming up to the Ness for nine? (lost count!) years now and spend all summer trying to unravel the mysteries of Structure Ten.

What better way to spend a summer!

When not excavating I am researching Early Bronze Age burials (looking at Pygmy cups - small ceramic vessels found in some burials) and satisfying my obsession for the weird and macabre through reading Nordic Noir crime fiction.

Chris Gee

I’m from Kirkwall, and have lived in Orkney all my life apart from a five year interlude in Trondheim, Norway.

I have been interested in archaeology a few years now. My first find, at the age of seven, being a medieval crotal/sanctus bell.

Three years ago, I completed my MA Archaeological Practice here at Orkney College UHI. Last year, and this year, along with Mairi Robertson and Colin Richards I co-directed the excavation at Smerquoy early Neolithic site in St Ola (as seen in June’s “Current Archaeology”).

This year again at the Ness I will be welcoming visitors on to the Saturday and Sunday tours and volunteering abouthands during the week.

As with previous years, I hope to incorporate some hands-on local hematite pigment production and other stone work as a short epilude to the site tour and discussion. I look forward to meeting you on site.

Andy Boyar

I'm a native New Yorker who emigrated to the UK after completely falling in love with the archaeology of Orkney!

I recently completed a BA (Hons) degree with a dissertation focusing on Neolithic monuments and astronomical alignments, and I am presently engaged on the MSc Archaeological Practice course at Orkney College UHI.

I've spent the past six summers volunteering with ORCA and Orkney College on various archaeological projects around the archipelago, and I am happily returning to the Ness for a seventh season - look for me in Structure One.

Alison McQuilkin

In July 2014, I graduated from the University of York with a Bachelor of Science in Archaeology and
this summer will mark my third season of excavation on the Ness of Brodgar.

I’ve spent this winter working at a desk with the Research Development Team at the University of York and I cannot wait for a summer of archaeology!

My claim to fame is that I hold the site record for number of nights (52) spent in a tent at Ness Point campsite in Stromness!

I’m really excited to be returning to excavating "features" in the floor of Structure Ten, seeing old friends, meeting new ones and to discovering just what the Ness has in store for us this season. (Hopefully that will include a bit of sunshine!)

Bring it on.

Sarah Cobain

I have been working at the Ness since 2008 and have a background in site excavation work and environmental archaeology.

I currently work for Cotswold Archaeology, where I undertake plant macrofossil and charcoal analysis, which involves reconstructing what crops were grown in the past, what people used to eat, which types of fuel they used and how they interacted with the landscape around them.

I also devise soil sampling strategies and advise on all aspects of environmental archaeology and radiocarbon dating.

Catriona Graham

I’m from Edinburgh. This is my fourth year at the Ness.

Seeking asylum from - what, this year? Oh yes, T in the Park in Strathearn – well, it worked for the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games!

Martha Johnson

I am a retired earth science educator and school administrator.

I live part of the year in Virginia and the remainder in Orkney.

I have volunteered at the Ness since 2010, working with general find bone and teeth and small find non-structural rocks.

I am now attending the Archaeological Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands as a PhD candidate analyzing and sourcing the non-structural rocks found at the Ness of Brodgar. AKA “The Rock Lady”

Chris Marshall

I’m a retired vet living near Stafford. I did a year of archaeology and anthropology at university, when I should have been studying something more four-legged and have retained an interest ever since.

A couple of years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet Nick and so volunteered for the Ness and did my first season there last year.

I must say it’s the best fun you can have with a trowel. I learnt so much in six weeks and the level of science involved is now way better than anything I learnt in the early 1970s.

My favourite bit is playing with electronic gizmos.

Jenny Marshall

Retired psychiatrist and psychotherapist, married to Chris, see above, who is also indulging an old passion for anything ancient and archaeological, first nurtured in Cambridge 40 years ago.

My knees don’t like digging, but the rest of me loves it and finds it all very fascinating!

I may have trouble getting in and out of the trenches - I needed three sandbags to get up out of the patch of midden in which we were digging at the end of last year, but the maceheads, "pot lid" and "pig-nose" were worth every aching and stiff joint.

Alice Amabilino

This is my fourth year at the Ness and i’m really excited to be coming back this year and can’t wait to get stuck in!

I am currently a postgraduate student at Orkney College, studying for my MSc in Archaeological Practice.

My study interests vary from the Neolithic to Iron Age Crannogs.

After my masters, I hope to stay in Orkney and continue to get involved with more archaeology and eventually get round to visiting more of the islands!

Giles Carey

Formerly a student at Orkney College, UHI, I am an archaeologist, currently working in England.

Orkney has been a focus of my research for some time and I relish any chance I get to dig at Ness of Brodgar. It truly is a staggering site, and I am privileged to be working there again for another season.

I have previously dug at a number of other Orcadian sites – particularly focused on the 4th millennium BC – and look forward to another summer filled with plenty of Grooved Ware, good company, complex archaeology – and all four seasons every day!

Catriona Gibson

I could probably radiocarbon date how long I’ve been an archaeologist, which is a rather scary thought.

I think of myself as embracing both the academic and commercial disciplines, although uncharitable types might suggest that I just can’t make my mind up whether to do fieldwork or pure research!

After working for a number of commercial units, more recently (partly because certain parts of me started to wear away and threaten to fall off) I have mainly been exercising the grey matter rather than muscles. I recently finished a large AHRC-funded project at the University of Wales on the Atlantic Bronze Age.

I will shortly return to academia on another big project, based at Reading University, researching prehistoric grave goods, so I’m unlikely to lose much weight any time soon.

I cannot wait to return to the Ness for a third season and be reunited with so many wonderful people and, in particular, the Structure Eight posse.

Despite working on some of the most complex, deeply stratified sites in the world, the Ness of Brodgar complex still remains the biggest head-scratcher of them all. It is simply a unique challenge and being part of the team is the most exhilarating experience - especially when the wind is getting up and the rain is coming down!

Hugo Anderson-Whymark

Hugo Anderson-Whymark is an archaeologist and flint specialist based in Stromness, Orkney.

Hugo’s PhD investigated Neolithic deposition practices in southern Britain (University of Reading, 2007) and he subsequently undertook post-doctoral research on rock art and quartz artefacts in the Kilmartin Valley (University of Southampton, 2009/10).

In February 2014, he moving to Orkney to research flint and stone tools as part of Prof Mark Edmonds’ Levehulme Trust funded project "Working stone, making communities: technology and identity on Prehistoric Orkney" (University of York).

Hugo has worked on the Ness of Brodgar excavations since 2011 and when not in Structure 14, he can usually be found knapping flints and taking photos from his kite.

Colin Mitchell

I am a mature returner to archaeology.

I came to Orkney, in 2012, to study at Orkney College, which was my first experience of the Ness of Brodgar.

Four years later, I am still living in Orkney and about to undertake my fifth season at the Ness.

In between times, I try to do as much excavating as possible - on both prehistoric and modern sites.

Jan Blatchford

To err is human ... To arr is pirate ... And to RRAAAAGH is Viking!

I'm Jan Blatchford and although I'm not really a Viking, my claim to Viking fame is that I came runner up with my friend Claire in the beard competition at the Jorvik Viking Festival last year!

I've been digging at the Ness for a number of years now and, as one of the original "Dirty Girls", have been working in the hallowed Structure Ten with Johnny Two-Buckets and Claire, the other Dirty Girl. Why Dirty Girls? Well, it's best not to ask! Suffice to say that we have shifted a lot of dirt!

I am studying for a Masters degree at Oxford University in Landscape Archaeology at the moment, and in my spare time am Head of Chemistry in a school down south.

Antonia Thomas

I am an archaeologist based in Orkney and this will be my 11th season working at the Ness.

I am currently working for the University of York on the ‘Working Stone, Making Communities’ research project with Hugo Anderson-Whymark and Mark Edmonds.

This fascinating study is exploring the biographies of prehistoric stone tools in Orkney and the Ness of Brodgar is forming a major part of the project.

My wider research explores archaeologies of art and visual culture and I recently completed my AHRC-funded PhD entitled ‘Art and Architecture in Neolithic Orkney’ at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Along with Maeshowe and Skara Brae, the Neolithic carved stone assemblage from the Ness of Brodgar formed a key case study in my research, so I can’t wait to see what turns up this year!

Mark Edmonds

Mark has spent more years than he's prepared to admit working on various aspects of Neolithic landscapes.

He is currently working with Hugo and Ann Clarke on a major review of prehistoric stone tools and technological traditions across Orkney as a whole. And he likes to find things.

Scott Pike

Scott Pike is an Associate Professor of Environmental and Earth Science, Geology and Archaeology and Chairs the Archaeology Program at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

This is Scott’s sixth year at the Ness of Brodgar, where he directs Willamette’s archaeology field school program.

Scott is an archaeological geologist, who specializes in Mediterranean marble studies, environmental geoarchaeology, and environmental and archaeological sustainability.

Scott’s research has included projects in Greece, Italy, Israel, Bulgaria and now Scotland.

His current interests are Neolithic resource procurement and trade, shallow earth geophysics as well as the development of on-site and in-near-time geological methods and protocols that can be used to inform the excavation process.

At the Ness, Scott has been looking at geochemical variations of floor deposits using a handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. The data helps distinguish archaeological contexts and decipher activity areas within the structures.

This year, Scott will also be using a newly acquired camera-equipped drone to record the site.

Ben Chan

Ben Chan is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Leiden.

He is an experienced field archaeologist and specializes in the study of stone tools. He previously spent many years working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

His current research involves studying the range of activities that were associated with Neolithic houses in Orkney through the analysis of microscopic wear traces on stone tools.

On his first ever morning's excavation in Orkney, he found the burial of a young woman interred beneath the floor of the metalworking hut at Minehowe. Ten years later he is still waiting to find something quite as exciting again.

He lives in hope of one day falling through the roof of a previously undiscovered burial chamber. This might just be the year...

Andy Martin

Andy Martin is archaeologist currently residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He has been working full time in archaeology since 2002, and is currently a site supervisor for a cultural resource management firm in New Jersey. In January he began the Masters of Arts in Anthropology program at Monmouth University.

This is Andy's third season at the Ness and he remains eternally grateful for the opportunity to be digging on such an incredible site with such amazing people, and for the support from his partner, family, and employers for allowing him disappear to Orkney every summer.

When not digging, Andy enjoys being confused for Bigfoot in site photos and breaking drum equipment up and down the Eastern Seaboard with his band.

Emma Aitken

This will be my third time at the Ness and I am really looking forward to coming back and working with such a great team of people!

I am in the midst of completing my Masters in Archaeological Practices with UHI and so I have been doing a lot of archaeobotanical work as part of that.

I am really interested in post excavation and finds processing so I will once again be part of the finds team at the Ness.

I like working as part of the finds team as you get to see all the amazing objects that come out of the Ness in the warmth of a nice shed!

Once I have completed my Masters, I hope to either get work in post excavation or in archaebotany, as that is where my main interests lie.

Of course, I love the Neolithic so working at the Ness gives me a chance to geek out!

Alette Blom

I am a second-year archaeology student at Leiden University (The Netherlands).

ORCA has provided me with the opportunity to excavate on the Ness of Brodgar for a two-month period as an internship.

My previous experience includes excavation on sites from Early Medieval Times in the Netherlands, but I have always been more interested in Prehistory.

I hope to graduate an osteoarchaeologist next year, with a focus on human evolution, and aim to continue onto a master's in human or forensic osteoarchaeology.

I have not yet seen the site in real life yet - nor any part of Scotland for that matter - but it has always been my dream to visit the Orkney Islands.

I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with such an enthusiastic and experienced team while spending my time on an amazingly beautiful and archaeologically rich group of islands.

Tonnie Richmond

My name is Tonnie Richmond and I'm a retired Education Officer.

I started archaological volunteering at a site in Cheshire (Poulton) around 2001 and discovered the Ness of Brodgar in 2006.

I have been coming up every year since then.

There is nowhere quite like it! Great archaeology, great scenery, great people.

Susan Greaney

I'm an archaeologist from Bristol with two hats: I spend half my time as a Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, and the other half completing my PhD. I've worked at English Heritage for last ten years researching for interpretation projects mostly at our prehistoric properties, including curating the exhibition at the new Stonehenge visitor centre.

Currently I'm working on a couple of Cornish projects - Tintagel Castle and Chysauster Ancient Village.

Also I'm a part-time PhD student at Cardiff University, where I've just completed my first year of research looking at Neolithic ceremonial monument complexes.

This is a very enjoyable return to academia after my undergrad years at Sheffield and masters at Oxford.

Orkney is one of my case study areas of course!

I'm really excited about taking part in excavations at the Ness this summer, and look forward to meeting (or catching up!) with the team.

Sam Harris

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Bradford. My thesis is entitled, "Developing Archaeomagnetic Dating in the Scottish Neolithic".

I will be returning to the Ness this summer, for the second time, having only briefly seen the site over a week last year.

You will most likely find me sampling one of the many amazing hearths the site has to offer!

My background is archaeological sciences although I spent two years broadening my horizons into longer and much earlier time scales at Lancaster University, where I studied the geomagnetic polarities during the Ordovician and Silurian epochs and then the later Triassic.

Fieldwork for this took me to Poland, Sweden, Ukraine and Svalbard (I counted myself very lucky!)

For those of you that I don't bore, you're welcome to ask any questions. In addition to archaeology, I live and breathe for travel and cookery.

I look forward to raising a glass with you all, sláinte mhór!

Tom O'Laughlin

I’m a weathered American archaeologist from years of fieldwork.

My excavation experience, starting at age 16, ranges from Mexican temples to US Civil War forts. In recent years, I have been a principal in an ongoing project focused on late prehistoric Pueblo and Spanish Mission settlements in central New Mexico.

I also specialise in the analysis of floral and faunal remains.

This will be my second year, and I’m looking forward to mastering my skill at recording contexts!

The archaeology of Neolithic Orkney is incredible, but I’m really fascinated by the methods used in investigating and documenting the Ness of Brodgar. What a class operation!

I’m also looking forward to a second year of sailing in the Kirkwall Regatta. One can’t work all the time.

Lorraine Clay

I was born in Newcastle and now live in Hexham, near the Wall, which my Dad inspired me with as a child.

I took archeaology A-level in my 30s and joined Northumberland Archaeology Group (and a pottery class).

In my 40s, I joined Altogether Archaeology, in the North Pennines, with digs monthly! (and became a full time potter).

Facing 50, I began considering things I'd always wanted to do.

First was visiting Orkney. Little did I realise my
second visit to the Ring of Brodgar would not be my last!

Ranger Elaine said Ness volunteers didn't have to have archaeology degrees and I began emailing Nick. I was ecstatic when I was accepted for last year's dig.

I am delighted to be at the Ness again: I shan't however be leafing through the CMA or mattocking in Trench T but will be lurking in the warm and dry, with Anne, in Finds, where I can keep my acutely arthritic thumb cool and dry.

I am looking forward to getting a broad perspective of the site this year from above the trenches and, as a potter, am looking forward to some nice pots please (decorated would be nice!)

Jayne Bell

I did my MA in archaeological practice in Orkney from 2011 - 2012 and loved it.

This will mark the fifth season that I have been at the Ness of Brodgar, as once wasn't enough!

I realised from my experiences at the Ness, and my other subsequent archaeological work, that working with finds is what I enjoy the most.

I live really close to Hadrian's Wall, and have completed a year's voluntary work at Vindolanda, helping with the finds, which was a great experience.
I have also done documentation work at Corbridge Roman site, typing up all the finds records for the site, which has been very interesting! I am doing a day a week volunteering at Corbridge again, which currently includes sorting Roman pottery.

This year I will be helping in the finds hut at the Ness, very much looking forward to it!

Kaitlin O'Neill

This will be my third season working at the Ness, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be coming back!

After graduating from Willamette University last year, with BAs in Anthropology and Archaeology, I have been stuck in my native Southern California for the last year, so hopefully the temperate weather of home hasn't made me too weak to handle the fickle Orcadian summer (if you can even really call it a summer)

When I'm not digging or reading, my other passions are travel and photography.

I've been doing photography for about nine years and, given the gorgeous Orcadian landscapes, finding beautiful places to photograph here is quite an easy task!

After taking an extra year off work, I hope to start an MA program next year with a focus on British and Irish rock art.

I'm extremely excited to come back to the Ness and work with all of the amazing people that this site attracts, along with seeing what wonderful things we uncover this year.

Lesley-Ann Mather

I have worked as an archaeologist for over 18 years, initially within the contracting side but moving over to curatorial work in 2000.

I have worked in a number of counties, the most recent being Northamptonshire, where I am the county archaeological advisor.

This involves advising on planning policy for the historic environment and managing the archaeological impact of major development schemes.

During my time as a curator I have also directed excavations in Italy.

In the last few years, I volunteered with the University of Birmingham, who were working in Qatar, collaborating with the Qatari Museum Service.

This is my fourth year on the Ness - unfortunately only for two weeks!

My research interests include the development and improvement of archaeological fieldwork methodology and implementation of current planning legislation as a cultural heritage management tool.

Andy Thomas

I have worked in archaeology for over 25 years. For the first nine years, I worked for contracting units, including Bristol, Bedfordshire, North Yorkshire, and Goucestershire.

Since 1998, I have worked as a planning archaeologist for Cambridgeshire County Council. Since moving to Cambridge I have also taken time out from my day job to direct excavations on a research project in the Abruzzo region of Italy and I have also worked in Qatar with the University of Birmingham.

My interests tend towards the prehistory of north-west Europe and the contribution that archaeology can make to the unique character of emerging new communities.

Megan Card

Hi. My name is Megan and I am the “Boss's’” oldest daughter (and professional lunch maker).

I go to school at the Academy in Stromness.

This is my second year helping at the Ness. I mostly help Anne in the finds hut and also Annabelle in the OAS shop.

I look forward to seeing lots of old faces and some new ones at the Ness this year.

Sarah Jane Gibbon

I am an historical archaeologist imposter at the Ness of Brodgar, and will be guiding on some of the weekend site tours.

I’ve be lucky enough to live in Orkney all my life (excepting five years studying in Glasgow) and have always been fascinated by the heritage and culture of my home.

I am a lecturer at the UHI Archaeology Institute, where I have the privilege of teaching others about this wonderful place.

It’s been nearly twenty years since I excavated a Neolithic site and so I’m looking forward to being part of the Ness 2015 team and who knows I might even get me trowel out in 2016!

Natasha Powers

I am senior manager at Allen Archaeology Ltd and spend my time split between the south coast and Lincoln, but I cut my archaeological teeth excavating in the Northern Isles and consider myself really fortunate to have been able to work at the Ness the past two summers.

I was previously the Head of Osteology at MOLA, working on everything from prehistoric cremation burials to 19th century inhumations, with the odd set of false teeth thrown in for good measure.

I have worked as a field archaeologist on commercial excavations throughout the UK and Ireland.

The Rangers

The ranger service has been involved in the Ness dig delivering the afternoon tours of the site.

Along with their small team of volunteers, they also support the Digging up the Past event for young people, aged between 12 and 16, on Tuesday mornings.

Pictured right are ranger Keith Brown, Volunteer Eleanor MacLeod, Volunteer Tracey Linklater, Ranger Sandra Miller, Ranger Elaine Clarke and Volunteer Fraser Macnaughton.

Hannah Genders Boyd

I’m an undergrad student at the University of Edinburgh, studying history and archaeology.

I’m really excited to be back on the team at the Ness this year.

Last season was my first time excavating at this amazing site and it’s such a privilege to be able to return this year.

This time around I’m hoping to continue working in Trench T and also to improve my knowledge of the site as a whole.

I first came to Orkney in 2010 on a family holiday and was immediately fascinated by the incredible archaeology of the islands (as well as the beautiful scenery).

My love of Scottish archaeology grew from that point onwards!

I’m hoping to meet some older, wiser and more experienced archaeologists and do a lot of learning in the weeks I spend at the Ness of Brodgar.

Orkney was the place that initiated my interest in archaeology and it is so exciting to be back on the team excavating on the Ness of Brodgar itself!

Lucy McLay

I am an undergraduate student of Archaeology at Edinburgh University and have wanted to excavate at the Ness of Brodgar for as long as I’ve wanted to be an archaeologist.

This is my first season at the Ness of Brodgar and I am excited for whatever the summer might throw at us.

I’ve visited Orkney many times on holiday and I absolutely love everything about the islands and their stupidly complex and sometimes unbelievable history.

I can’t wait to start helping uncover more of it.

Anne Teather

2015 was my first season at the Ness, taking a break from research on Neolithic flint mines, chalk artefacts and art on the mainland of Britain.

My previous excavation experience includes Wiltshire (Stonehenge Riverside Project); Dumfries and Galloway, Anglesey and the Isle of Lewis.

After such an amazing experience last year - working with a great team on fabulous archaeology – I’m delighted to be returning this year.

Jeanne Rose

Orkney, and its landscape and archaeology, has been inspiring my painting since my first visit, over 30 years ago. (Just where did that time go?)

I retired from teaching on Long Island, New York, and after being an annual summer visitor to Orkney since 2004, I took the Orcadian challenge to come in the winter.

That was in 2010, the last worse winter here! I survived and am lucky to still be here and living in Stromness.

I have been helping Anne Mitchell with the small finds since 2011 and, for the past few years, I have been helping at the OAS shop on site and with small finds through the winter months at Orkney College.

I have been so absolutely lucky and thrilled to be on site when the triangle stone, the carved stone ball, the cloud stone mace, stone spatulas and the butterfly stone were unearthed!

These moments and objects, as well as Orkney's standing stones, continue to influence designs in my artwork, some which are for sale at the OAS shop on site or at ArtWorks of the Earth, my working/studio teaching/gallery space in Stromness at 2 Dundas Street.

I can't wait for the summer season to begin!

Billy Wilson

I started my working life on the ground staff of Newcastle United, sweeping St James’s Park terracing.

I became a professional footballer at the age of seventeen and made my only appearance in the first team at the tender age of 18, only to be given a free transfer six months later when my manager got the boot.

In later years, I formed a successful telecoms business.

When my daughter moved to Orkney, ten years ago, I started to visit and when the fishing was poor one day, I arrived at the Ness.

Nick kindly let me have a few days on the trowel and I have been here every year since.

This is the only experience I have had of archaeology and I have enjoyed every minute of the Ness and met many new friends.

Emma Smith

I’m a 19-year-old student at Cambridge, studying archaeology.

Mainly interested in Prehistory, mainly the Neolithic, so the Ness is pretty much perfect!

While my colleagues are off to far flung exotic places, I’m quite happy in Britain, especially as I’m not a massive fan of too much sun, so again, Orkney sounds perfect!

Jim Rylatt

I have been an archaeologist for longer than I haven’t!

I am one of the few professional archaeologists who, so far, hasn’t permanently relocated from Sheffield to Orkney. I am returning to the Ness of Brodgar for the fourth time, because I have an unhealthy attraction to Neolithic World Heritage Sites, I want to boss people around, point at things knowingly, need to top up my tan and, because 18-year-old Highland Park is my favourite single malt whisky.

WLTM people with an interest in sharp, pointy stones, Grooved Ware pottery and planning!

Holly Young

I am just wrapping up my fourth and final year of my undergraduate archaeology degree at Orkney College UHI and I’m excited to get stuck into another summer of digging.

Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to take part in the Yesnaby Art and Archaeology Research Project and three seasons of The Cairns, in South Ronaldsay.

However, I had only managed to visit The Ness and got very jealous listening to loads of my friends talking about how great it is.

Luckily, this year, the stars have aligned and I am really excited to have the opportunity to join in and be part of the excavation team for the first time.

David MacInnes

I am from a little community called Grand Pre, which is in Nova Scotia, Canada, and I am doing a master’s degree at Orkney College in Archaeology.

I am retired and have a lifelong interest in an evidence-based understanding of social development and in finding ways to make the world a better place. I am also an eighth generation descendent of the Scottish migration to North America during the 18th century and a graduate from St Andrews University, where I have an interdisciplinary master’s degree in management, economics and politics.

When I saw the National Geographic article about the Ness, I knew I had to come here. For me, understanding the Ness is about learning how communities in Scotland re-organised themselves as the introduction of farming generated a surplus above subsistence needs.

Kath Page

I left Somerset and moved to Orkney, with my family, a year ago and now live in South Ronaldsay.

After nearly 17 years working as a nurse specialist, for people with learning disability and neurological conditions, I decided to have a complete career change and will be studying for a MA in Archaeology at Orkney College UHI come September.

I have had a lifelong interest in history and archaeology and spent many a weekend re-enacting English Civil War battles and running educational events for schoolchildren.

Since moving to Orkney, I have had the opportunity to volunteer and participate in events run by the archaeology department, so the prospect of working on the Ness of Brodgar site is very exciting.

Marc Frobisher

I am joining this year's excavation at the beginning of August, and to say I am excited is a massive understatement.

I have been wanting, and waiting, to come up to Orkney, and to the Ness of Brodgar, for four years, after my first community excavation hooked me back in 2012, and I am pleased and honoured to be joining you all for the 2016 excavation.

I am eager and willing to learn as much as I am able during my time in Orkney.

Paul Durdin>

I'm an escaped Australian who discovered the joys of British weather and archaeology in 2010.

At home, in York, I work as a freelance archaeologist, and I couldn't imagine a better job anywhere in the world.

I recently completed a BA in Archaeology at the University of York, but I've been involved in community archaeology projects for over six years and have been lucky enough to dig on sites of many periods up and down the country.

This is the first time I've managed to get to Orkney, but I've followed the news from the Ness for a long time.

I have a particular fascination with the development of societies and economies in British prehistory, and experiencing a site like the Ness firsthand is a dream come true.

Outside archaeology, I keep fit by playing football, bouldering and reading.

Katy Bell

I am a part-time PhD student at the University of Winchester. I am particularly interested in the Mesolithic to Neolithic and island archaeology and I live on the Isle of Wight.

I have a BA in Archaeology from University of Bristol and an MA in Maritime Archaeology from Southampton University.

As well as experience on a lot of terrestrial British sites, I am also a keen diver and have been lucky enough to dive and excavated on the submerged Neolithic site of At Lit Yam, in Israel.

I am looking forward to my first visit to Orkney and excavating at Ness.

Mairéad McLaughlin

I graduated in both Archaeology and Folklore from University College Cork, Ireland, in 2000 as a mature student.

I have worked as an archaeologist for both the public and private sector ever since.

I volunteered on the Ness of Brodgar in 2009 and it's a privilege to be back as part of such a diverse group of people and to work on some amazing archaeology.

I'm so excited. Bring it on 2016!

Rose Drew

I started off as a rock hound, scouring first Florida and then Connecticut for interesting rocks - especially rose quartz (for obvious reasons).

After working as a bartender and in sales, and teaching geology to Year 3-4 students), I finally got round to finishing my BSc in archaeology (2000), and an MA in archaeology, with a focus on skeletons (2003).

After a year digging up and analysing inconvenient prehistoric Miami inhabitants from a commercial property (all while the developer wept over financial losses, haha), we headed to the UK in 2005.

I first fell in love with archaeology almost 22 years ago, after reading a children's book on Skara Brae to my daughter. This will be my long-promised first ever trip to Orkney after all these years.

I travel all the time to my work, as skeletons cannot come to me. I'm usually in a lab, but I enjoy the quiet camaraderie and moments of "aha!" that come from working my way through layers of soil and occupation.

We were supposed to have a "proper" vacation this year - Alan had wanted to see Barcelona, so maybe speak Spanish to him every now and then and he won't mind so much.

In 2011, at an old Priory in Pontefract, we excavated Roman ceramics and medieval stained glass, which are VERY old artefacts to an American.

I'm looking forward to enjoying some actual fieldwork for a change.

Robert Gustavsson

I am a Swedish archaeology student, currently at my second year, at Queen's University Belfast.

Before my life as an archaeology student, I worked a lot with music and am also a qualified music teacher.

My move to Belfast was out of wanderlust and the ability to study something fascinating in a completely new place.

This will be my first year at the Ness of Brodgar, and I am very excited about having been given the opportunity to take part in it.

Other than just receiving additional experience and knowledge (as well as meeting new people), it covers a period which has become one of my favourites to study. I have also wanted to visit Orkney itself for the longest time due to its unique Scandinavian heritage.

During my visit, I am also planning on doing research for my dissertation next year on the carved stone balls of Scotland.

Alice McGregor

I’m a midwife, living and working in the Greater Manchester area.

I’ve always had an amateur interest in history and archaeology, to the extent of making my friends dig in my mother’s garden for treasure when I was a small child.

Imagine my disgust when a Roman hoard was discovered in our village by a retiree looking for a hammer!

This is my first time on a dig, and my first time in Orkney, a place I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’m looking forward to the people, the place, and the experience.

Recently I’ve decided to seize life by the throat and enjoy it, and this is part of it!

Jasper McMurtry

Although native to California, in the US, I've always had an abiding fascination with European and British prehistory.

For many years I was an erstwhile student of other fields, such as computer science, while being mundanely employed in various means and generally uncertain what to do with myself. Finally, I decided to stop thinking about money and to pursue what I was most interested in.

In 2013, I acquired my BA in archaeology (technically anthropology, as the former is subsumed into the latter in the US) from Sonoma State University in California.

In the years since I've worked as an archaeologist in numerous locations in the US. Now I'm very excited to come to Orkney and experience a wholly different sort of archaeology.

I am most fascinated by what is on the periphery of what is known, either in space or time, and by the extent of ancient peoples' knowledge of the wider world.

On the other hand, I am also interested in osteoarchaeology and most particularly changes to cranial and mandibular morphology and rates of dental malocclusion resulting from changes in subsistence strategies and technologies. And also composite tools in general...

Now I must decide if I want to follow the conventional US track to a MA/PhD or be audacious and apply to a university in the UK, which may be more appropriate for my developing interests.

Robert Leedham

After graduating from my Mres at the University of Reading, in September 2015, I have been working in commercial Archaeology.

Since 2011, I have been actively researching and excavating in Orkney. I'm not shy to admit my original curiosity has become an obsession!

Since 2011, I have avidly kept up to date with the Ness’s progress and feel very privileged to be joining the team this year.

Thank you for this opportunity and looking forward to some unforgettable moments!

Emma Hannah

I am a postgraduate student from Belfast, soon to begin a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast on crafts in early medieval Ireland.

I studied at QUB for my BSc and went on to complete an MPhil at the University of Cambridge last year.

Although my main interests lie in medieval archaeology, prehistory still has a hold on me. I have excavated at prehistoric sites in Ireland and Malta and I found these extremely enjoyable experiences.

This will be my first time in Orkney and I am very excited to be part of the team this year.

Bill Powell

I've happily left behind my earlier first and second year studies of Classical Greece and Rome and have inexorably gravitated to my passion of the British Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

This will be my first year at the Ness, and having relied on texts and images of the site, I can't wait to be at this Neolithic epicentre.

I'm a mature third-year archaeology student at Birkbeck and UCL, and have focused recently on Stonehenge and Must Farm and have every expectation the Ness will be right up there.

Rita Reed

Professor of Professional Practice in Photojournalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where I teach classes in lighting and the picture story and photographic essay.

I am in Orkney this summer to help two Missouri journalism graduate students get started on an independent study video project about the life in Orkney – present and past.

This is my first time in Orkney, a trip I have dreamed of making for years. I have no archaeological experience, just interest in, and enthusiasm for, all thing Neolithic. But I did earn an undergraduate degree in history and I am a descendent of Scots who immigrated to North America sometime between the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Before returning to teaching (I was once a secondary school history teacher), I worked as a newspaper photojournalist for 20 years, mostly at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, MN where I covered local, national and international stories.

I have worked in Eastern Europe, South America, Haiti, Russia and China.

It is also my honour to serve as Director of the College Photographer of the Year competition, which for 70 years has been setting the standards and recognising the best in student photojournalism.

Every year, students at 120 colleges from 20 countries enter 15,000 photographs and 250 multimedia stories for judging by a panel of working professionals. The winning College Photographer of the Year goes to National Geographic Magazine as an intern.

Emma Smith

I first dug at the Ness in 2014, as part of my summer fieldwork placement for my undergraduate archaeology degree.

I've spent the last year in a far too sensible job, not related to archaeology in the slightest, whilst trying to save up some money for a Masters, so I'm very excited to be getting in some digging!

Olga Palacios Martínez

I’m from Barcelona and this is my last year in archaeology degree at University Autonomous of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain).

So, before starting a Masters (scary) I’ve been really lucky to get a scholarship for coming to the Ness for four months!

I’m very excited because I won’t be only digging on the site, I am going to help with the study of ceramics! To be honest, I’m quite enthusiastic about pottery, so, this is a great opportunity to get more experience in this field.

I’ve tried to participate in as much excavation as I could, but my biggest interest is in prehistory, so I have worked in sites in Catalonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Patagonia.

I am thrilled to participate in this dig, I am sure that I will learn a lot! Also, I have never been in Scotland and I want to visit as many places as I can to learn about Scottish culture and heritage during my stay.

Emma Church

I am an Australian archaeologist, currently living in the UK.

I have dug on sites in Australia, the UK, the Czech Republic and the Philippines.

I completed my undergraduate studies in archaeology in 2012 and have been working as an archaeologist ever since.

I look forward to discovering more about the archaeology of Orkney and working at this amazing site.

Euan Cohen

I am an undergraduate student currently studying archaeology (BA) at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

I am very happy to be part of this summer's archaeological digging at the Ness of Brodgar and feel privileged as this will be my first dig.

I first heard about the Ness of Brodgar at a public lecture being held at the Strathclyde University in Glasgow and ever since then it has been a main focus place of my first year studies.

Originally from Glasgow, and continually travelling north, I am looking forward to seeing Orkney, meeting the people and getting a sense of the place.

Hopefully this will be the first dig of many!

Jo McKenzie

I’m a geoarchaeologist, and a field archaeologist lucky enough to have spent a good chunk of my many digging years in the Northern Isles - mainly with the University of Bradford, where I’m currently an Honorary Fellow in Archaeological Sciences.

My research focuses on the microscopic archaeological materials preserved in the floors and hearths of the buildings, and you can follow my progress by the ever-increasing number of tiny square holes peppering the site.

No, they’re not the spots where the Ness folk buried their hamsters, but sampled blocks through the many, many exciting layers of archaeology which make up the "dirt".

Microscope slides of these samples can tell us what was happening inside the buildings – in more detail than you perhaps ever wanted to know.

As Nick indulges this passion to a ridiculous extent, those wonderfully well-preserved surfaces don’t look as pretty as they might have done. Sorry Nick.

When not in Orkney, I spend a lot of time looking down a microscope at the tiniest nuggets of archaeology from sites of all periods, and am currently co-authoring a book on an Iron Age ritual site - crazy, futuristic talk here on the Ness.

Sabrina Autenrieth

I accomplished my Bachelor’s and Master studies of Pre- and Protohistory at Kiel University (Germany), specialising in Neolithic house structures, megaliths (BA-Thesis: House and megalithic structures of the Orcadian Neolithic. An architecture-sociological analysis) and material culture.

During the last few years, I took part in several excavations and archaeological surveys in Germany, Scotland, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For me, being a member of this year’s Ness of Brodgar excavation team, is a dream come true and I am genuinely happy, that I could somehow sneak myself in.

After my graduation, in April 2015, I worked as a scientific guide for an educational journey to Scotland. This was also my first visit to Orkney and the Ness of Brodgar, where I had to conceal my trembling hands, which instantly wanted to unearth the many mysteries of the Ness.

Meanwhile, I started my PhD research in September 2015 at Leiden University in the Netherlands about Bronze Age metalwork depositions in the broader Middle Rhine Valley in Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg within the ‘Economies of Destruction’ project.

The aim of my research is to identify a potential correspondence between the rise and fall of watery depositions and dry-land depositions, the inner structure of depositions, as well as to reveal whether objects deposited in dry lands represent a practice steered by ideas and motivations contrasting from those of river depositions.

I am overly excited to linger in the Orcadian past, while indulging in great Scottish whisky, Orkney ice-cream and the refreshing Scottish summer in the meantime.

Jenna Ward

So, when I'm not at work helping kids learn; being a mom/taxi driver/helper with ice-skating, rugby, and cubs; at home doing chores/helping with homework or being as good a wife as I can be......then I can finally be myself!

These occasions are far and few, but, come the summer holidays, time slows down a bit and I look forward to my time here at the Ness.

I have volunteered and completed a few practicals for both undergraduate and masters courses with UHI since 2012 and it is something I can be truly proud of.

It is an experience like no other, and the team is like extended family.

I can't wait to see what is discovered this season and hope the weather holds out!

Vega Orozco Legaza

I’m from Madrid, Spain. I was a professional archaeologist but nowadays I’m combining working in a NGO with independent research in archaeology.

I discovered the Neolithic in Orkney during my academic period (many years ago) and it was amazing when I read the appeal in Facebook!

The Ness of Brodgar is a challenge for me: firstly for the language (be patient, please!) and secondly because I’m used to digging Roman.

Iain MacHarg

My background is in education and I am a professor at Norwich University.

Most of my time is spent studying and teaching traditional Scottish music.

However, these last few years I’ve developed a real fascination with prehistory and after visiting the Ness last year I can’t stay away.

I’m very excited about working in Orkney this year, helping out however I can, and getting covered in mud!

When I’m not teaching, I can usually be found trying to tame wild children and unruly bagpipes.

Mark Littlewood

"No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die perfectly geo-referenced to OS coordinates and exportable to a number of software applications!"

Here I am practicing my evil scientist routine, while laser scanning the underground magazines of the World War Two Ness Battery, in Stromness.

I am the geomatics officer within the Archaeology Institute, UHI; primarily dealing with surveys, CAD, GIS and marine archaeology.

This can involve a lot of glaring at computers and printers and talking to machines that go beep a lot! Contrary to popular myth there is no instant, magic do-everything-now button in the world of geomatics!

Like last year, I will be directing the survey aspect of the project. I will probably be the one doing a Star Trek Dr McCoy impression saying something along the lines of “I’m a naval historian not a tech genius!”

Beyond the world of geomatics (otherwise known as map making with data attached!)

I am a naval historian/maritime historian/maritime archaeologist and an occasional amateur rocket scientist.

My research interests are Chinese and Southeast Asian junks and Sampans, Roman harbours, Bronze Age to Iron Age Boats of the United Kingdom, warships of the American Civil War and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

My maritime archaeology work in Orkney has involved considerable research into my older historical interests of World War One and World War Two naval and maritime history.

Sam Bithell

Ever since visiting Orkney as a teenager, I have been fascinated by the islands' mystery and archaeology.

Sites such as Maeshowe, Skara Brae and, of course, the Ness of Brodgar are what fuelled my original passion for the subject and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to dig at such a place.

I spent three years at Durham University to get a BA in Archaeology, having specialised in GIS, the Iron Age and landscapes for my dissertation.

Prehistoric landscapes remain one of my biggest interests in archaeology and Orkney can boast some of the best around!

I currently work as a field archaeologist at Cotswold Archaeology, excavating sites spread across most of the south of England.

While a fascinating and enjoyable job, I hope to expand my horizons and learn something about a rather more northerly part of the country!

Mandy Wood

With a degree in Geography and a Masters in Palaeolithic Archaeology and Human Origins, it will be no surprise that I love travelling and exploring landscapes, past and present.

I went on my first excavation at 18 and have not looked back since, volunteering each summer.

I have been fortunate to take part in excavations in Britain, France, Spain, Israel and South Africa, including Culverwell, Crickley Hill, Sedgeford, Boxgrove, Caune de l’Arago, Sima de las Palomas, Tel Dor and Swarkrans, but my heart lies in the Neolithic and a fascination with prehistoric religion and ritual.

I have always wanted to visit Orkney and am enormously grateful to Nick for letting me join the team.

Matthew Stirke

I've just finished my final year at school and hoping to study ancient history and archaeology at Newcastle University.

This will be my first year at the Ness of Brodgar. Previously, I've worked at Binchester Roman fort and
helped supervise a community dig in Nidderdale.

I'm from North Yorkshire and have never been to Orkney before, so I am very much looking forward to it.

Caz Mamwell

I’ve known Nick Card for over 30 years now, having met him when we were both digging in Sanday.

Although I’ve dug at the Ness in the past, nowadays I concentrate on helping with fundraising as the online appeals co-ordinator.

It takes a lot of money to put the dig team into the field for eight weeks a year and to fund all the post-excavation work, and we rely heavily on public donations and the generosity of our supporters.

On that note, you might be interested to hear that our current appeal is to fund 40 radiocarbon dates at £375 each. All donations, large or small, will be most gratefully received at

I’m also responsible for running the websites of both the Ness of Brodgar Trust and the American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar Inc and sending out for the free email - News from the Ness newsletter, which helps to keep our supporters up-to-date with "all things Ness" during the 44 weeks of the year when we aren’t on site, but post-excavation is in full swing.

For a very substantial donation to the excavation fund, I may even be persuaded to reveal all about the infamous "banana fight" incident at Toftness in Sanday, all those years ago . . . including photos!

Leonie Teufel

I have been doing archaeology for four years and have volunteered and worked on a variety of projects, including early prehistoric cropmarks, Iron Age hillforts, Roman forts and post-medieval landscapes, like St Kilda.

I am a recent graduate in archaeology from the University of Glasgow and am coming to dig for my first season on Ness of Brodgar, before starting the MSc at UHI.

I visited Orkney in 2013 and was really impressed with the site so I’m excited to get involved and get to know my new temporary home better.

I can’t wait to get started!

Helen Green

I graduated with my degree in Archaeology in 2012 and master’s in Landscape Research in 2013, both from the Archaeology department at University of Glasgow.

I’ve worked, since 2013, as a supervisor on the SERF project, excavating Neolithic sites in Perthshire.

Currently, I’m undertaking doctoral research into Renewable Energy and the Historic Environment, which is what first brought me to Orkney last year: the World Heritage Site area in particular is very important to my research.

I loved the Neolithic archaeology and I thought the Ness of Brodgar site was amazing – very much looking forward to excavating there this summer.

Evan Cobb

I just finished my first year of studies for my masters in journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

I am in Orkney this summer to work on video and photographic projects about the lives of those who live(d) on the islands, the history, and the connection it all has to one another.

This will be my first time in Orkney, and Scotland, for that matter, but I have spent a good portion of my recent years abroad.

I lived in Cambodia for two years (2012-2014), where I taught English in a rural high school. During my time abroad, I solidified a passion for storytelling through visuals. That passion brought me to the journalism school at the University of Missouri this past year.

I am excited to be tromping around with all of the archaeologists and learn more about the islands and the vast and interesting history they contain.

Aaron Phillips

I will be working on a short documentary in Orkney this summer, looking at how life on the islands is influenced by its past.

I have always been fascinated by mankind's origins and the early records our species has left behind. So it is with much excitement that I look forward to spending time at and documenting the dig at the Ness.

I have ventured up to the highlands before (including hiking to the top of Ben Nevis in near white out conditions), but this will be my first time this far north in Scotland.

I spent the first half of my life in Texas and the second in Mississippi. After a career start in civil engineering, I began to look for something more creatively fulfilling and found my niche in photography.

The last several years I worked in commercial photography and video, but this did not satisfy my desire to tell stories and document the world around me. So I moved to Columbia, Missouri last summer to attend the University of Missouri and I just finished my first year of the photojournalism masters program.

Jane Sharp

I'm a retired academic.

I have published widely on international arms control and disarmament diplomacy, and held research fellowships at Harvard and Cornell Universities in the USA, at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and at Kings College, London.

I spent the summer of 1960 as the quartermaster of a Nottingham University expedition to Svalbard and am looking forward to my first visit to Orkney this August.

Lara Shinto

I’m an undergrad student at Willamette University, studying Archaeology and Environmental and Earth Science.

Having recently discovered my interest in archaeology, I’m excited to be participating in my first dig at the Ness this summer.

One thing I’m looking forward to is learning about the history of Orkney and being able to compare its archaeology with the culture and history of my hometown in Hawaii.

Alex Casteel

Born and raised in Indiana, 2016 finds me in Oregon in my last year as an undergraduate.

After graduating from Willamette University, I plan to return to Orkney again in 2017 to finish my thesis.

I first fell in love with archaeology through literature on the birth of consciousness and symbolic thought, and it would seem there is groundbreaking insight from the Ness on this subject!

I was at my first field school in 2013, near Huari, Peru, which was immediately followed by volunteer archaeology work at Chavin de Huantar. I then worked as a contractual archaeologist in Colombia, and am now beyond thrilled to work in my native tongue for the first time at the Neolithic excavations at the Ness.

I hope to pursue a Masters in Europe somewhere within the framework of Norse and Medieval Archaeology and cannot wait to experience archaeological life in Orkney!

Peter Lawson

I am an undergraduate student at Willamette University, in Oregon, United States, and am currently pursuing a BA in archaeology, alongside a BA in music composition.

I have long nurtured a fascination with archaeology, and though I have a small library of books on the subject, this dig in Orkney will be my first field experience!

I’m excited to finally get my hands dirty in the study I’ve read so much about, and consider myself very fortunate that my first experience will be the dig at the Ness.

My current interests in archaeology are not yet defined to a specific area or time. I’m fascinated by cultures around the world, and am considering pursuing some kind of comparative studies in my future education.

Aside from archaeology, I have been a musician since a very young age. I play cello among other instruments, have been composing since age 10, and have had my music performed by school groups and my public youth symphony. My music is inspired by a mixture of western classical, film, world, and folk music.

Down the line, I would love a career (or careers!) which puts my loves of archaeology and music side by side.

Bluet Coy

Hi, my name is Bluet Coy (pronounced Blue [Capital] A).

I am a senior in the honors program at University of California, Los Angeles. I first began a love for archaeology in high school, when I took an introductory archaeology college course at Indiana University.

My first experience in the field was surveying in the High Sierra (Mojave) Desert in Southern California, United States.

I am very excited to be excavating at the Ness of Brodgar this year. While there, I intend to conduct several interviews to gather information for my senior thesis currently in development; a theory that I hope will change how we measure ideological transmissions across the landscape.

Next spring, I plan to attend a semester abroad at the University of St. Andrews, so look for my upcoming publication.

I am very grateful to be with such great people and look forward to an enjoyable digging season at the Ness with hopefully many more to come.

Charlotte Lerner-Wright

I am currently an undergraduate student at Willamette University, in Salem, Oregon, studying Archaeology and History with minors in Classics and Religious Studies.

Willamette’s archaeology field school program at the Ness was instrumental to my decision to attend Willamette, and, as such, I am very excited to be participating this year!

This will also be my first dig (and my first time in Scotland), and I hope to learn a lot.

Derek Lund

Hi I’m Derek. I will be one of the students joining the Ness of Brodgar dig from Willamette University, in Salem, Oregon.

At Willamette University, I am a junior, studying Environmental Science and work in the Outdoor Program.

This is my first season volunteering with the dig and my first time ever working on an archaeological excavation.

I am excited to put my childhood interest of the ancient world to application on this summer dig and hope to cultivate a lifelong passion towards archaeological inquiry.

I hope that this summer will be a thorough introduction into not only the world of archaeology, but also the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Laura Cannon

A soon-to-be graduate of Willamette University, I am back at the Ness for the second time to finish my archaeology degree.

With both an interest in archaeology and studio art, the work I will be focusing on this season involves a drone to video the site and its surroundings to some extent. Can’t wait to get back to site.

Catherine Rowan

I am a third-year undergraduate at Bryn Mawr college in Philadelphia, but I'm originally from the central coast of California.

I am studying archaeology, geology and environmental studies and though I am still exploring my interests geographically, I would, in general, like to focus on the excavation and preservation of sites impacted by modern environmental change.

I have worked previously on a site in Minorca, Spain, and at the BLM doing cultural resource management in the Owen's Valley region of California.

I am participating in Willamette University's field school at the Ness and I am absolutely ecstatic to get the opportunity to work on such a marvelously rich and fascinating site.

This will be my first time in Scotland. I am really looking forward to a summer full of all the exciting weather that I have been missing at home. It will be an honor to work with and learn from such dedicated and knowledgeable people.

Sofie Williams

I am an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in archaeological studies from the University of Georgia.

I am very happy to be participating in a field school with Willamette University.

This will be my first time in Orkney, as well as my first dig.

I am excited to be able to participate in this wonderful opportunity.

I am fascinated by British and European history and prehistory. I hope to learn a lot and decide on which aspect of Archaeology I want to explore more.

Alice Thacker and Bruce Goatly

Amateurs! We’re rank amateurs! But keen, nevertheless.

Our only previous archaeological experience consists of having one person, from the Museum of London, dig up our back garden, as we are on the site of Merton Priory and occasionally find chunks of early 12th century masonry ourselves.

We are both retired - Bruce from Head of Publications at the Royal Society, and Alice from being a Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow in Psychiatry of Disability at St George’s Medical School, University of London.

She now gives costumed demonstrations of medieval and 17th century spinning during Open Days at the Priory’s Chapterhouse, at schools, and at ecology events, as she grows her own woad and madder. She is, of course, researching Neolithic textile-making methods now.

We’re also members of a Medieval Folk-Rock band.

Bruce has long regretted not paying much attention to history at school and is keen to do some catching up. The Neolithic is an excellent place to start!

This will be Bruce’s first visit to Orkney. Alice was last here the day of the first referendum about staying in the EU - 40 years ago!

We’re looking forward to working with the finds team in this fantastic place.

Amanda Wintcher

I visited Orkney as an undergraduate during a course on British prehistory in the 1990s. I probably walked right over the Ness site, but hopefully my oversight can be excused as the site had not yet been identified!

Although I loved Orkney, as an American I thought it would be impractical to specialise in British prehistory, so I pursued other interests. But fate has a way of doing strange things.

After a few years working outside archaeology, I decided to go to graduate school and ended up coming to Durham to do a PhD, and I now live in the UK permanently.

My expertise is in prehistoric rock art, especially from the southwestern USA and eastern Spain.

At the moment, I work for Museum of London Archaeology, where I encounter many different types of archaeology, but rarely anything as amazing as the Ness of Brodgar.

This project will definitely be a learning experience for me, but I hope that my contract archaeology skills will be useful for the project.

I'm looking forward to the chance to (finally) work in Orkney.

Alan Gillot

A graduate of York’s Field Archaeology MA, I have a long-term interest in infant burial practices and in the provenance of recorded archaeology.

Excavations have included sites in Florida and Connecticut, churchyards in Yorkshire and a Friary in Pontefract.

With a background in IT infrastructure - I work on the software that lets you run the software that does the useful stuff - I am also a musician, performer, writer and broadcaster.

Archaeology and anthropology keep me grounded and focused on why we do the things we do.