Meet the Team 2017

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 two years in a far too sensible job not related to archaeology in the slightest, whilst trying to save up some money for a Masters, so am very excited to be getting in some digging!

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.

Jenna Ward

Hello! I am a masters degree student with Orkney College and am currently finishing my dissertation. When I don’t have my head in a book or my eyes glued to a computer screen, I am a wife and mother of two boys. They lovingly come along each summer to support me while I am here and enjoy the wonders that this tiny island has to offer.

I have been helping out with the Ness since 2012 and love every minute I get to spend on site and in Orkney. It is a constant hands on learning experience with finds that are truly amazing. I have worked in Trench T as an undergrad student as well as in structures 14, 12 and 1. This season I am hoping to get back into structure 1, but I’ll be happy wherever I end up to be honest!

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!

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!

Ali McClean

Hi, I’m Ali, and it’s my 1st time visiting Orkney and the Ness of Brodgar and I can’t wait!

I’ve been interested in archaeology, particularly Neolithic, for as long as I can remember!  I think this fascination comes from being born and living in Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, which is littered with Neolithic sites.

I did my degree in Archaeology and Heritage at Worcester Uni and lived in the UK for some years volunteering on various excavations when I could. I now work back in Guernsey as a Lecturer with Post-16 students with Special Needs.

I’ve been dying to get digging again and can’t believe I’ve got this chance to dig at the Ness!

It’s going to be the start of a whole new chapter of archaeological adventures!

Jair Keij

I’m a second year Bachelor student at the university of Leiden in the Netherlands. I will be working on the site for the first three weeks as an internship. Besides the Ness I will also be working on the site of the Cairns for three weeks. I have never been to Orkney before, so I’m thrilled to see what it looks like.

Currently i’m following specialisations in archaeology of northwest Europe and the Mediterranean area. I hope to finish my Bachelor with these specialisations and osteoarchaeology. I have fieldwork experience from Bronze and -Iron age sites in the Netherlands but the Ness of Brodgar is a lot different than these sites.

This will be my first season at the Ness and i can’t wait to join the team this year. Although my stay at the Ness is quite short, I will enjoy the work and i’m excited to meet some new people and learn new things.

Brooke Krancer

I am a rising sophomore studying history at the University of Pennsylvania. Last summer, while I was backpacking in Orkney, I thumbed a ride outside of Stromness. The driver told me about the Ness of Brodgar and offered to let me out at the excavation site. As soon as I saw the Ness I was fascinated, and I asked how I could apply to participate in the excavation. So this summer will actually be my second time at the Ness, and I am excited to see it from a different perspective!

Brooke Krancer

John Willis

I am a retired aerospace engineer and materials scientist. I live in White Salmon, Washington, in the Columbia River Gorge. Although born in England, my family is Scottish and the love of Scotland has been ingrained into my system.

I have always been interested in history and archaeology. Now that I have time to spare, I have been taking archaeology classes, volunteering at the Fort Vancouver archaeology lab, and participating in excavating Maya ruins in Belize. The opportunity to spend time in Orkney, through Willamette University’s summer program, was irresistible.