Although due to the Covid-19 pandemic all excavations in Orkney including the Ness of Brodgar have been cancelled this year, that doesn't mean nothing has been happening behind the scenes. The big news this week is the publication of the interim report from the Ness of Brodgar Team, the snappily titled 'The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands'
Calling it an interim report does it a disservice as this is a mega book with 27 chapters and fully illustrated:
Archaeological excavations at the Ness of Brodgar are adding a new thread to ‘The Orkney Tapestry’. Set on a narrow isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray, this remarkable complex of stone buildings stands at the heart of an area long renowned for its Neolithic monuments. Drawing on evidence from more than a decade of fieldwork, this book explores the character, history and significance of the site, asking why it was that people over 5000 years ago came to create some of the most monumental stone buildings of their time.
Beautifully illustrated, The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands provides a wealth of information about the buildings and artefacts found during excavation, from flint tools and pottery to polished stone axes and maceheads. The huge amount of carved stone artwork on the site is stunning and mysterious; so much more than mere decoration. Here we find the animals that were farmed and hunted, the fish that were caught and shellfish gathered, as well as the cultivated crops and wild plants that were used for food. But Orkney was not isolated in the Neolithic (a modern, city-centric concept) and the chapters gathered here trace the connections between these islands and what we now recognise as Britain, Ireland and continental Europe. I once told a journalist that the discoveries at the Ness of Brodgar meant we had to tear up books on the Neolithic and start again. This exquisite study of an ongoing project is an excellent first step in that direction. Tom Muir, Orkney Museum
You can buy your very own copy from the Ness of Brodgar online shop and even better it will be signed by the authors, with all proceeds going straight to the excavation fund. The book is officially launched on November the 18th, and site director Nick Card will be giving a talk on the night which will be recorded and posted up on the Ness of Brodgar website.
Nick usually gives an annual lecture just before the excavation season - aka 'the Big Nick' - but this year it had to be called off for the obvious reason. However don't despair since he did give two online lectures for the Orkney Science Festival which by the miracle of modern technology are also online:
Event 1: Stories in Stone
Event 2: The Science of the Ness
Hopefully by the summer of 2021 everything will be back to normal and we can stop living virtually!