All set for 2019 excavation season…

Archaeologists and volunteers will return to the Ness of Brodgar next week for the thirteenth year of excavation. The covers come off the trenches on July 1, with the site open to the public from July 3, until August 21.

While work will continue on each of the buildings, carefully excavating down to the floor levels, this year will see a particular focus on the mysterious and architecturally unique Structure Twenty-Seven, lying at the bottom of a massive mound of midden in Trench T.

Structure Twenty-Seven from above.

A small extension to the trench will expose the corners of the structure, while excavators will continue removing the overlying midden and rubble material. 

Structure Twenty-Seven is likely to pre-date most of the other buildings on site and bears a striking resemblance to a construction encountered during the excavations at Howe, Stromness, in the 1970s. At the time the Howe structure was interpreted as a stalled tomb or mortuary structure — but this is questionable. Are the two buildings related? Time will tell.

Site director Nick Card suspects that the discovery of a hearth or two may be possible, hopefully leading to more dating material.

In Trench J, work to clear the overburden covering Structure Five will continue. It is known that this is an Early Neolithic building, and therefore one of the oldest on site, but just how early needs to be confirmed.

Trench P and Trench X

In addition, Trench X — a narrow spit running from the main trench towards the Stenness loch — will be revisited this summer, with an extension planned to reveal more of what appears to be a post-built structure. The extension will cover its full extent and, hopefully, to get some dating material that has so far proved elusive.