Meet the Team 2017

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 Stromness. I have been involved with the excavations at the Ness of Brodgar since 2006 and I am the carved stone specialist for the site. Along with Maeshowe and Skara Brae, the Neolithic carved stone assemblage from the Ness of Brodgar formed a key case study in my PhD research. This was published as Art and Architecture in Neolithic Orkney: Process, Temporality and Context by Archaeopress in 2016, but I am looking forward to updating this with all the new discoveries of art from the site. 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.

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…

Emma Aitken

This will be my fourth year working at the Ness of Brodgar, my third as past of the finds team. I really enjoy working as part of the finds team as it gives me the opportunity to look at everything that comes in from site. I also help the on site geologist Martha with some of her work. Coming back to the Ness is allowing me to geek out on neolithic stuff as the majority of finds I work with now are roman!

I currently work at Cotswold archaeology where I am an environmental archaeologist in training. This means that I do post excavation work and also some archaeobotanal and wood identification work. I’ve recently undone extra training on wood identification with historic England. I am hoping that by the end of my training I will be a fully fledged environmental archaeologist who specialises in archaeobotany.

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.