The Ness of Brodgar

The south-eastern end of the Ness of Brodgar. (Jim Richardson)

The south-eastern end of the Ness of Brodgar. (Jim Richardson)

The Ness of Brodgar is the name of the thin strip of land, in the West Mainland of Orkney, that separates the lochs of Harray and Stenness. The name derives from the Old Norse nes – headland; brúar – bridge and garðr – farm, and translates roughly as the “headland of the bridge farm”.

Part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, the Ness is covered in, and surrounded by, archaeology and, until the beginning of the 21st century, was best-known as the location of the Ring of Brodgar.

Ness of Brodgar MapIn 2002, that changed. On the south-eastern end of the isthmus, excavation has revealed a massive complex of monumental Neolithic buildings along with associated “artwork”, pottery, bones and stone tools.

The Ness excavation site lies at the centre of a landscape rich in archaeology.

Within a half a mile of our complex of Neolithic buildings we have the Ring of Brodgar to the north-west and the Stones of Stenness, Watchstone and Barnhouse settlement to the south-east.

Bronze Age burial mounds cluster around the Ring of Brodgar, which is contained in an area bounded by the Dyke of Sean (suspected) prehistoric earthwork.

Further afield are Maeshowe, Unstan and an unexcavated chambered cairn outside the Standing Stones Hotel.

And just as the Stones of Stenness marks the south-eastern access to the peninsula, the north-western end is watched over by the massive circular monument known as the Ring of Bookan.