Meet the Team 2017

Claire Copper

Hi, I’m Claire, and I have been part of the Ness team for nine years or more now. I am usually to be found in Structure 10 attempting to unravel its mysteries. In addition, I am interested in how pots are being deposited on the site.

Away from the Ness I specialise in Bronze Age ceramics and mortuary practices, and I have just completed my MPhil at the University of Bradford entitled The Early Bronze Age Funerary Cups of Southern England – a huge but fascinating project. I am currently working as the glamorous research assistant on my husband Mike Copper’s Historic Environment Scotland-funded project Tracing the Lines: Uncovering Grooved Ware trajectories in Scotland.

Chris Gee

I’m from Kirkwall, and have lived in Orkney all my life apart from a five year interlude in Trondheim, Norway.

I have been interested in archaeology a few years now. My first find, at the age of seven, being a medieval crotal/sanctus bell on the beach.

In 2010 I completed my MA Archaeological Practice here at Orkney College UHI and have taken part in the investigations at the Ness each year since then. As well as that I have been excavating at Smerquoy early Neolithic site in St Ola and fieldwalking (also just wandering around) in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage area.

This year again I will be welcoming visitors on to some of the Saturday and Sunday tours and volunteering in the trenches some week days.

I love making Neolithic inspired decorated stones and carved stone balls. As with previous years, I hope to incorporate some hands-on local hematite pigment production and other Neolithic stone work (hopefully we can complete the perforation through the macehead this season) during the open days and as a short epilude to my site tour and discussion.

Andy Boyar

Hi, I’m Andy (a.k.a. Girl Andy) and I’m from Brooklyn, NY. I’ve been a part of the team excavating at the Ness since 2010 and have had the privilege to work in Structure 1 for the past five seasons. I moved to Orkney in 2011 to study archaeology and have since completed an MSc in Archaeological Practice and a BA (Hons) in Archaeology at Orkney College UHI. My research focus is the Orcadian Neolithic period and I am interested in pursing a future PHd related to archaeoastronomy.

Alison McQuilkin

I am from York and this summer will be my fourth season of excavation at the Ness of Brodgar.

After a winter facing a computer every day I cannot wait for a summer of archaeology!

My claim to fame is that I hold the site record for number of nights (52) spent in a tent at Ness Point campsite in Stromness!

I feel both privileged and excited to be returning to excavating “features” in the floor of Structure Ten and I look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones and to discovering just what the Ness has in store for us this season…hopefully that will include a bit of sunshine!

Sarah Cobain

I have been working at the Ness since 2008 and have a background in site excavation work and environmental archaeology.

I currently work for Cotswold Archaeology, where I undertake plant macrofossil and charcoal analysis, which involves reconstructing what crops were grown in the past, what people used to eat, which types of fuel they used and how they interacted with the landscape around them.

I also devise soil sampling strategies and advise on all aspects of environmental archaeology and radiocarbon dating.

Catriona Graham

I’m from Edinburgh. This is my fifth year at the Ness. I missed out on one year, working on my dissertation for the UHI M.Litt in Archaeological Studies. That was the year it rained …

Martha Johnson

With a background in teaching the geological sciences and educational administration, retirement brought me back to Orkney as a volunteer at the Ness of Brodgar in 2009.  By 2012, my interest in both the archaeology and the geology of the West Mainland was combined to produce a research project:  Rocks Matter: A Geological Basis for Understanding the Rock at the Ness of Brodgar.  Over the past five years, I have conducted analysis and identification of the non-tool, non-structural rock recovered from the Ness of Brodgar to assess the scope of this rock across the site.

My work at the Ness made me aware of the urgent need for additional funding sources to support this remarkable archaeological site. This led to the founding of the 501(c)(3) charitable organization, American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar, Inc.  This organization promotes awareness of the Ness of Brodgar as well providing a tax deductible means for interested Americans to support the archaeology through a charitable contribution.

Chris Marshall

I’m a retired vet living near Stafford. I did a year of archaeology and anthropology at university, when I should have been studying something more four-legged and have retained an interest ever since.

A couple of years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet Nick and so volunteered for the Ness and did my first season there last year.

I must say it’s the best fun you can have with a trowel. I learnt so much in six weeks and the level of science involved is now way better than anything I learnt in the early 1970s.

My favourite bit is playing with electronic gizmos.

Jenny Marshall

Retired psychiatrist and psychotherapist, married to Chris, see above, who is also indulging an old passion for anything ancient and archaeological, first nurtured in Cambridge 40 years ago.

My knees don’t like digging, but the rest of me loves it and finds it all very fascinating!

I may have trouble getting in and out of the trenches – I needed three sandbags to get up out of the patch of midden in which we were digging at the end of last year, but the maceheads, “pot lid” and “pig-nose” were worth every aching and stiff joint.

Alice Amabilino

This is my fourth year at the Ness and i’m really excited to be coming back this year and can’t wait to get stuck in!

I am currently a postgraduate student at Orkney College, studying for my MSc in Archaeological Practice.

My study interests vary from the Neolithic to Iron Age Crannogs.

After my masters, I hope to stay in Orkney and continue to get involved with more archaeology and eventually get round to visiting more of the islands!