Visit the Dig

One of the afternoon tours at the Ness of Brodgar Dig Site
Keith Brown, one of the Historic Environment Scotland World Heritage Site rangers, assists with an afternoon tour.

Visitors to the site are welcome throughout the excavation season, but please remember that the Ness of Brodgar is a working archaeological dig in a field. 

Be prepared for bumpy, sometimes wet and slippy, ground and areas where it is not safe for visitors to go.

During your visit, please keep to indicated routes and stay away from the edge of the digging areas.

Dig and tour dates 2019

Weekends

Please note that there are no diggers on site for most weekends (apart from the specified special Open Days). 

There are tours at 11am and 3pm (gates open circa 15 minutes before the tours), when the site shop will also be open. Outwith these hours the site is closed to the public.

Tour groups

For 2019, we are asking tour guides not to join their tours on to the official site tours — these are simply too full. Instead, tour operators should guide their own groups. There will be information boards around the site (and multi-lingual texts available at the site shop).

  • Tours are free if you guide your groups yourself, but please ask your guests to consider a donation – we depend hugely on visitor support. It makes up 80 per cent of our funding. In addition, please encourage your guests to buy the guidebook.
  • For out-of-hours tours, or a guided tour with site director Nick Card (if he is available), we ask for a minimum donation to dig funds of £200 or £10 per head, whichever is the larger. Contact info@nessofbrodgar.co.uk for more details.
  • There is no need to book tour slots for groups of eight or smaller – just turn up, but please follow the parking guidelines below.
  • For larger groups, please book a slot so we can avoid clashes with other tours and try and avoid the official site tour slots detailed above.
  • Please check the site opening times – it is not open all day, every day. On most Saturdays and Sundays we are only open around 11am and 3pm. At these times, there are no diggers on site and tours will have to work to suit the official site guides if these are your only available visiting times.
  • There is no entry to the site if the main gates are closed and no staff on site. It may be possible to arrange out-of-hours or out-of-season visits with Nick Card, but a donation, as above, will be requested.

Weather closures

Mike Copper shows some of his superb replica Neolithic pottery at one of the site open days.
Mike Copper shows some of his superb replica Neolithic pottery at one of the site open days.

In particularly bad weather, we might not dig – heavy rain is not only bad for the archaeology but wet and slippy sites are dangerous for archaeologists and visitor alike.

Parking

On-site parking is free – at your own risk. The site entrance is tight and tricky, however, so please be careful.

Larger vehicles will find it difficult to access the site. Owners of these vehicles should park at either the Stones of Stenness or the Ring of Brodgar and walk to the Ness.

Coaches, minibuses and camper vans

The Ness car park entrance is not big enough for coaches or midi coaches. Camper vans will also find it difficult to negotiate.

Coaches, vans, and any other vehicles must not be parked along the side of the Brodgar road. Please do not drop passengers off at the site entrance – the road is busy and potentially dangerous.

Passing places

The passing places at the side of the main road are solely for letting other vehicles through. Please do not use them for parking.

Shop and help raise funds

The Orkney Archaeology Society has an on-site shop which raises funds for both the Ness of Brodgar and the society. The money raised by the shop benefits not only the Ness but other archaeological projects in Orkney.

There you can buy the Ness guidebook, postcards, Ness of Brodgar jewellery and more – knowing that the Ness and Orkney’s other amazing archaeology will benefit directly from your visit. Sterling and Mastercard, Visa, Maestro and Amex accepted.

Sponsor a Square

For a £10 donation, visitors can choose a square from the site and we’ll send you a newsletter at the end of the season to let you know if anything special was found in your square.

Open Days

2019’s open days are on Sunday, July 21, 2019, and Sunday, August 18, 2019, from 11am to 4pm.

These feature archaeology in action at the Ness excavation site and at Stenness Community School. Lots of hands-on for all ages. Orkney home-baking and much more in the café at the school too. A must-visit element of Orkney’s summer season.

Out of season access

A sea of tyres…the Ness when we’ve packed up and gone back indoors.

Unfortunately the site can only be open to the public during the July/August digging season.

At all other times it is closed and the archaeology covered to protect it from Orkney’s potentially damaging weather. Sandbags support vulnerable masonry and are covered with several layers of plastic sheeting and geo-textile membrane held in place by thousands of tyres. Severe gales are common in winter in Orkney.

However, outwith the excavation season you can still experience the Ness via private tours with the site director Nick Card, but we ask for a donation towards site costs, as above. These tours provide behind the scenes access to some of the finds not on public display, a ‘virtual’ illustrated tour, an appreciation of the landscape setting of the Ness, and time for Q+A.

Private lectures/talks by Nick can also be arranged for tour groups to Orkney.

Please contact Nick on nick.card@uhi.ac.uk to check availability.