2013 road work revealed structure beyond the ‘Great Wall’

The six-metre-long section of walling uncovered during work to insert a passing place opposite the site entrance in 2013. (ORCA)

Ness of Brodgar Image

The location of the 2013 trench in relation to the Ness excavation site. (maps.google.com)

Visitors to the Ness of Brodgar site are always staggered to learn that we have excavated less than ten per cent of the complex.

The sheer scale of the Neolithic complex has become more evident over the years, with geophysics suggesting more buildings to the north-west, some distance beyond the “Great Wall of Brodgar”.

Ness of Brodgar wall section

The wall displayed regularly coursed masonry of neatly faced, quarried flagstone on a stepped foundation. (ORCA)

A fine example was exposed in 2013, during work to insert a new traffic passing place on the section of road directly opposite the site entrance.

A test pit dug before construction began revealed a section of walling.

As the pit was extended it became apparent that, architecturally, the wall displayed the same standard of high-quality masonry as had been encountered in the buildings in Trench P.

Ness of Brodgar Wall.

The exploratory trench along the Harray loch side of the Brodgar road. The Ness excavation site is visible on the opposite side. (ORCA)

The wall, which was exposed for over six metres, survived to a height of over 0.4 metres with regularly coursed masonry of neatly faced, quarried flagstone on a stepped foundation.

Within the confines of the small exploratory trench it was not clear what the walling represented – the interior of the structure it defined now lies beneath the Brodgar road.

But its position outside the “Great Wall”, together with the later geophysical surveys, suggest the boundary wall, and its southern counterpart, may only relate to part of the Ness complex’s early life.

The remains were carefully covered and preserved in situ under the new passing place.

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