Focus on finds – beads
Although we don’t have a huge number of beads at the Ness, the examples we have show exquisite craftsmanship.
Unlike Skara Brae, where the huge bead assemblage was predominantly bone, the Ness beads are made from either stone or amber. That doesn’t mean people at the Ness were not making and using bone beads – it’s more likely they simply have not survived due to the acidic soils across the site.
The size of the beads recovered vary – generally between 1-2cm in diameter – however, one type in particular stands out. Measuring a mere 2mm in diameter, the patience and skill – not to mention eyesight – of whoever made these miniscule artefacts deserves recognition.
What were they used for? Probably the same thing we use beads for today – jewellery, clothing and perhaps hair.
It is interesting to note that outside Neolithic Orkney, there is relatively little evidence for the use of jewellery or dress accessories, of any material.