Structure Twenty-Six

Structure Twenty-Six in 2019. (ORCA)

The excavation of Structure Twenty-Six’s began in August 2016, when Trench P was extended to investigate walling revealed adjacent the south-western section of Structure Ten’s paved external passageway.

Excavation under way in Structure Twenty-Six in 2018. (Jo Bourne)

The interior of Structure Twenty-Six in 2018, looking across to Structure Twelve. (Jo Bourne)

The walling was found to be part of a small, D-shaped building lying between Structures Ten, Twelve and Thirty.

Measuring around 6.5m by 4.5m, Structure Twenty-Six is one of a group of smaller buildings constructed late in the history of the Ness of Brodgar complex.

Featuring a single, narrow entrance in the south-west corner, its interior was dominated by a rectangular hearth flanked by a large orthostat featuring decoration on both sides.

Long and low, the thin slab ran SW-NE and defined a single rectangular recess along building’s eastern wall.

The structure’s walls were a mix of different construction styles, probably incorporating sections of earlier buildings. Some of the wall sections were freestanding while others had been partially dug into midden.

Early in its excavation Twenty-Six began producing material at odds with its size and construction. This included fine examples of decorated and dressed stone which, together with geologically recognisable stone previously encountered in Structure Twelve (and its earlier incarnation Structure Twenty-Eight), suggests Twenty-Six was constructed from material robbed from it and the collapsed primary phase of Structure Ten.

Structure Twenty-Six’s D-shaped form is very similar to that of Structure One at the Neolithic Stonehall settlement in Firth.

Discovered in 1995 and excavated until 1999, radiocarbon dates suggest that the Stonehall building’s D-shaped phase pre-dates the Ness’ Structure Twenty-Six by at least three centuries.

Investigating Structure Twenty-Six, which now seems to be later than Structure Ten.

The early days of Structure Twenty-Six’s excavation (Sigurd Towrie).

The entrance to Structure Twenty-Six. (Nick Card)

The exterior of Structure Twenty-Six in 2018, viewed from the entrance of Structure Twelve. (Sigurd Towrie)

The exterior of Structure Twenty-Six in 2018, viewed from the entrance of Structure Twelve. (Sigurd Towrie)

2019 plan of Structure Twenty-Six. (ORCA)

2019 plan of Structure Twenty-Six. (ORCA)

The interior of Structure Twenty-Six in 2018. (Sigurd Towrie)

The interior of Structure Twenty-Six in 2018. Note the ring of orthostats against the inner wall. (Sigurd Towrie)

Dr Antonia Thomas working on the degrading decorated orthostat in Structure Twenty-Six.

Dr Antonia Thomas recording the degrading decorated orthostat in Structure Twenty-Six.

Horned spiral decorated stone from the area between Structure Twenty-Six and Structure Twelve.

Excavation under way in Structure Twenty-Six in 2018. (Sigurd Towrie)

Excavation under way in Structure Twenty-Six in 2018. (Sigurd Towrie)