The Ness of Brodgar – As it Stands, provides a comprehensive and up-to-date account of the Ness of Brodgar excavations.
It is the third volume in the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute research series and features contributions from institute staff as well as specialists from around the world, many of whom will be familiar to regular readers of the blog.
The result is 27 chapters, each devoted to different elements of the site, its excavation and interpretation. Fully illustrated in colour, we are sure the book will delight anyone with an interest in the prehistory of Orkney, Britain and Ireland.
Archaeological excavations at the Ness of Brodgar are adding a new thread to ‘The Orkney Tapestry’. Set on a narrow isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray, this remarkable complex of stone buildings stands at the heart of an area long renowned for its Neolithic monuments.
Drawing on evidence from more than a decade of fieldwork, this book explores the character, history and significance of the site, asking why it was that people over 5000 years ago came to create some of the most monumental stone buildings of their time.
Beautifully illustrated, The Ness of Brodgar: As it Stands provides a wealth of information about the buildings and artefacts found during excavation, from flint tools and pottery to polished stone axes and maceheads.
The huge amount of carved stone artwork on the site is stunning and mysterious; so much more than mere decoration. Here we find the animals that were farmed and hunted, the fish that were caught and shellfish gathered, as well as the cultivated crops and wild plants that were used for food.
But Orkney was not isolated in the Neolithic (a modern, city-centric concept) and the chapters gathered here trace the connections between these islands and what we now recognise as Britain, Ireland and continental Europe. I once told a journalist that the discoveries at the Ness of Brodgar meant we had to tear up books on the Neolithic and start again. This exquisite study of an ongoing project is an excellent first step in that direction.