The excavation site is at the south-eastern end of the Ness of Brodgar – the strip of land in Orkney’s West Mainland that separates the Harray and Stenness lochs. Its name derives from the Old Norse nes – headland; brúar – bridge and garðr – farm, and translates roughly as the “headland of the bridge farm”.
The isthmus acts as a bridge between the north-western corners of the Mainland and its centre – a role it has probably fulfilled for millennia.
Lying at the centre of a massive natural “cauldron” ringed by hills, the Ness of Brodgar runs north-west to south-east and is therefore naturally (and roughly) aligned to the midwinter rising sun at midwinter and midsummer sunset. There is no better place than the Ness to view both.
All these factors may explain why we have such a concentration of prehistoric monuments around the peninsula.
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.
In 2002, that changed with the discovery of a massive complex of monumental Neolithic buildings, along with associated “artwork”, pottery, bones and stone tools, at the centre of a landscape rich in archaeology.
Further afield are Bookan, Maeshowe, Unstan and an unexcavated chambered cairn outside the Standing Stones Hotel.