First Ness excavation report available to mark 20th anniversary of discovery

The site of what is now Trench P in April 2003. (Beverley Ballin Smith)
The site of what is now Trench P in April 2003. (πŸ“· Beverley Ballin Smith)

The 20th anniversary of Structure One’s discovery – the first building found on site – is approaching. I think it’s fairly safe to say that not many of those who saw it peeking from the earth had an inkling what lay ahead.

The notched stone that led to the discovery of the Ness of Brodgar complex. (Sigurd Towrie)
The notched stone that led to the discovery of the Ness of Brodgar complex. (πŸ“· Sigurd Towrie)

At the end of March 2003, the field between Brodgar Farm and the house of Lochview was being ploughed. During the operation the plough caught on a large, stone slab and brought it to the surface.

The worked stone, which had semi-circular notches along one side, was initially thought to be the lid of a Bronze Age cist. And if there was a cist, odds were that human burials might have been disturbed.

That possibility meant that any further investigation fell within the remit of the nationwide human remains call-off contract, overseen by Historic Environment Scotland.

So, Beverley Ballin Smith and Gert Petersen, from Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD), were despatched to Orkney and began excavation on April 4, 2003.

There was no burial cist but what was revealed was the south-western corner of Structure One.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history…

To mark this momentous anniversary, and to launch a new section of the website, Beverley has kindly granted permission to make her 2003 excavation report available to download here.

A Data Structure Report (DSR) is a technical report of excavation – an intermediate summary to define the results, initial interpretation and questions that assist developing in post-excavation analysis and future strategy.

Other DSRs from subsequent seasons will follow over the coming months, so you can see how the Ness excavation developed and our ideas have changed.

Carole Hoey and Gert Petersen uncovering a corner of Structure One in April 2003. (Sigurd Towrie)
Carole Hoey and Gert Petersen uncovering a corner of Structure One in April 2003. (πŸ“· Sigurd Towrie)

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