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  The Brough of Birsay

The Pictish period

Little remains of the early Pictish settlement on the Brough. When the Norse took over the island, they built their own distinct buildings over the remains of the earlier structures.

Although all that is visible to the modern visitor is a small well and a section of wall, archaeological excavations on the site have revealed the remains of oval shaped Pictish houses thought to date from around 600-700AD.

But despite the lack of Pictish structural remains on the Brough, the wealth of artefacts found indicate the site was once fairly prosperous, perhaps home to an individual or family of considerable status.

Hundreds of fragments of broken moulds, as well as a number of complete moulds, were found on the site. These, together with the crucibles and pieces of worked bronze, confirmed the presence of a metalworker. From the patterns on the recovered moulds it is clear that jewellery typical of the Pictish period was created there.

But of all the Pictish artefacts, undoubtedly one of the most Orkney's most recognisable was uncovered during excavations on the Brough in 1935.

Back then the fragments of a mysterious Pictish symbol stone were unearthed within the area that formed a later Christian kirkyard.

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See Also

All but two of the ogham inscriptions found in Orkney were found in Birsay - one in the remains of a house at Buckquoy, the other three on the Brough.
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