Neolithic bull putting in appearance at County Show

The Neolithic bull alongside Cecily Webster. (Jan Blatchford)

Just how big were the cattle consumed at the Ness of Brodgar in prehistory?

Drop by the County Show, in Kirkwall, tomorrow, Saturday and you’ll be able to see for yourself.

Some of the Ness excavation team will be joining the Highland Park stand this year to mark the launch of the fundraising Ness of Brodgar’s Legacy whisky.

With them will be a full-size representation of one of the 5,000-year-old bulls whose remains have been found on site.

And this prehistoric beast was not small – as anyone seeing the replica, masterfully crafted by building contractor Alfred Flett Ltd, Holm, and painted by Ness stalwarts Jan Blatchford and Cecily Webster, will realise.

Cattle played a major role in the life of the Ness complex, which is approaching the end of its 13th year of excavation. Not only has cattle bone been found across the site in contexts dating from around 3500–2800BC, but evidence from pottery shows that beef and dairy produce was a major component of the Ness diet.

The end of the Ness complex itself was marked by what appears to have been an incredibly ostentatious feast, which saw the slaughter and consumption of over 400 cattle, whose remains were carefully placed around the last building on site – the monumental Structure Ten.

So if you’re at the show, stop by the stand where you will also be able to buy tickets for the 2019 Ness Grand Draw and help fund this important, ongoing archaeological excavation.

Remember: Because we are at the County Show on August 10, the site will be closed to visitors and there will be no public tours.