Join us on Sunday for Open Day

Ness of Brodgar Open DayOur 2022 Open day takes place on Sunday, July 31, on site, in the Stenness school and Maeshowe visitor centre.

We hope to see many of you on the day and here’s a taste of what’s on offer. 

We open at 11am in all three venues. What’s there to see at each? 

On site, we’ll be joined by the Historic Environment Scotland World Heritage Site rangers and running continuous tours of all three trenches. Our dig team will be working on Sunday so you’ll be able to see archaeology in action.

We’re down now at floor levels and the work is delicate and time consuming and picking ever so carefully over the floors Orcadians walked over, 5,000 years ago.

In addition to doing the Time Team bit for real, rather than via your television, we’ll have activities to watch and engage with:

  • Jane Cooper and her Boreray sheep, one of Britain’s ancient breeds.
  • Kevin Critchlow, drystone building a copy of a section of Structure Eight, working entirely with stone for the walls, obviously, but also as his toolkit.
  • Ben Elliot, of the UHI Archaeology Institute, flintknapping, one of the important skills of the Neolithic.
  • Neil Leask, of Orkney Museums, demonstrating uses of the plants worked in the past, both Neolithic and much more recently – no plastics, no metals, no off-the-peg fabrics.
  • Jeanne Rose, artist in residence, helped by Kim Mitchell, making pictures, art on stone – specifically aimed at young visitors but really for anyone who wants to think Neolithic. 
  • The Ness finds team processing this season’s finds and answering your questions – if we can. 
  • The very large Ness bull for that different photo opportunity.

And the Orkney Archaeology Society shop with lots of different stock, not on sale anywhere else in Orkney, like two very different Ness of Brodgar hats, recycled bead jewellery, the replica Ness carved stone ball, mugs, water bottles and Toni Sarcinella, with her book, Wolf and Owl Remember, to raise Ness funds and much more.  

Down at the Maeshowe Visitor Centre, we have our special exhibition – The Ness: Its People – showcasing some of the finds from the Ness, themed very much around the folk of the Ness, and a look at what they made and used and lived with.

There’s flint, stone tools, pottery, art, Orkney voles like you’ve never seen them before, animals of the Ness and its connections into the Neolithic of the rest of Britain. 

In the Stenness School, there’s the Ness Cafe, raising funds for the Stenness Community Association and the Stenness Primary School PTA with soup, sandwiches and homebakes. And once you’ve sampled those, what about:

  • Jan Blatchford and Roy Towers, our pottery specialists, with Ness pot and its fingerprints, imprints of cord and basketry and other surprises including Jan’s BIG pot – made to test the manufacture of a beautiful pot found in 2021.
Yesterday we showed you Cecily's drawing of the decorated pot sherd from outside Structure Twelve. Today we present her reconstruction of the massive 0.5-metre-diameter vessel. (Cecily Webster)

Artist’s impression of the massive 0.5-metre-diameter pottery vessel found on site in 2021. (Cecily Webster)

  • Jen Harland and Julie Cussans, zooarchaeologists at the UHI Archaeology Institute, will have a selection of bones to show and talk with you about. What about inventing an animal from what they have with them?
  • Orkney Young Archaeologists Club, helping young potential archaeologists to make Ness inscribed discs to take home afterwards.
  • Michael Sinclair, a highliy gifted Orcadian woodturner, who is inspired in much of what he does by the Neolithic.
  • Barry Graham, maker of Burnside Farmhouse Cheese, showing how to make simple cheese and how it might have been made by the farmers of Orkney 5,000 years ago.
  • Gary Lloyd, UHI Archaeology Institute researcher, showing and talking about some of the stones made into tools and used at the Ness – with some surprises among them when we looked closely after they were first brought from the ground.
  • Martha Johnson, Ness of Brodgar geologist, with her “foreign” stones – the rocks that were walked to the Ness by knowledgeable and wise Neolithic specialists and unearthed, literally, from corners of Orkney.
  • Cecily Webster UHI Archaeology Institute environmental archaeologist, with Sally Hallam’s help, will be sorting samples from this year’s Ness excavations to see what tiny treasures appear from serial sieving of buckets of material from the site. 

So, there’s lots to do and see and help support the work at the Ness.

See you Sunday.

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