Pop to the shop and help us keep digging
Open and on-site for the duration of the dig is the visitor gift shop.
The shop is there to raise much-needed funds for the dig. This year it has been my good fortune to come to the Ness and look after the shop for the summer.
Less than two weeks in and I have become fully consumed by the magic of the place. Each day has a gentle routine brought alive by the warmth and family nature of the people that volunteer and work at the dig.
All days are made unique by the variety of visitors who come along to the tours and I find that every day is always an opportunity to learn from some surprising sources.
The gift shop is, in fact, a white trailer at the site entrance, opposite Trench J.
Space inside may be limited but care has been taken to fill the shop with handmade goods and artwork that have specific links to the Ness.
Many items on sale in the shop such as postcards, scarves, cushion covers, tea towels, art books and limited-edition prints draw creative inspiration directly from the Neolithic treasures uncovered at the Ness.
While the site guidebook is by far our best seller other popular items include knitted voles, groove ware pots, replica stones balls, Ness of Brodgar tankards, insulated cups and the Ness t-shirts.
Our replica carved stone balls are hard plaster reproductions of the petrosphere found on site in 2013. These replicas have proved so popular that orders are now being taken in the shop for delivery by post in six weeks’ time!
All the artisans who supply goods to the shop are masters of their own crafts and have a wealth of knowledge. This is perhaps a lot to do with our suppliers having a shared passion for both Orkney and archaeology.
The lady who knits the Brodgar voles informs me that the DNA of the Orkney voles is closely related to that of Belgian voles.
Perhaps the fact that the Grooved Ware pots on sale are made by a renowned expert explains why we had a fascinating impromptu short lecture, in the shop the other day, on late Bronze Age pots.
I’m pretty sure you don’t get that level of service anywhere else.
However, the shop wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the people who come to visit the Ness and who make it all possible by donating to help fund the site through buying these wonderful products or by sponsoring a square.
I have come to realise just how much these visitors share a passion for Orkney and archaeology, travelling from near and far to visit the site.
Visitors share stories of the archaeology of their own countries as well as tales of what has drawn them to Orkney.
Occasionally the archaeologists from the site chat with the visitors in the shop. Just this week I witnessed a German visitor and one of our archaeologists debate just who had the largest aurochs. Until then I had little idea just how big prehistoric cows could be!
For those of you yet to visit the site this year please come and say hello to me in the shop and while you do that you can also help fund the excavations by picking up your own little bit of the Ness to take home.
I look forward to meeting you.