No excavation this year but dig diary dusted off for 2020

Diggers begin the mammoth task of removing the tyres and covers from Trench T in 2018. (Sigurd Towrie)

The Ness of Brodgar covers were due to come off tomorrow, but this year there will be no excavation at the 5,000-year-old Neolithic complex.

Hundreds of excavators from across the world were due on site in July and August but the global coronavirus situation saw the decision to cancel the 2020 dig taken back in March.

Covers are removed and play resumes in Structure Twelve in 2013. (ORCA)

Although there are fears the cancellation will hit future work on site – the bulk of the project’s funding comes from public donations during the dig season – the off-site archaeological work continues and the Ness team are pulling out all the stops to keep the momentum going online and ensure future site visitors remain up-to-date with the latest developments.

Among the first of the planned projects is dig director Nick Card’s annual pre-excavation lecture, this year entitled Ness of Brodgar a history in the making. Originally due to be delivered in the Orkney Theatre last week, Nick is perparing a video version that will be available here within the next few weeks. The lecture outlines the latest thinking on the Ness, in particular dates and the many different phases and changes over time.

Although the protective covers remain firmly in place at the Stenness site, they will come off, metaphorically at least, on the website with the resumption of the dig’s annual dig diary.

The only digging this year, however, will be through the site archives to produce daily posts that will complement new material from the experts involved in the post-excavation work and one or two other projects up our sleeves.

So, as we always say, watch this space…

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