Visiting the Ness of Brodgar this summer – what you need to know

Trench P on Friday afternoon, with its protective covering firmly in place. (Sigurd Towrie)

Trench P on Friday afternoon, with its protective covering firmly in place. Work to start removing them will begin tomorrow, Monday. (Sigurd Towrie)

Almost two years since we were last on site, the covers at the Ness of Brodgar start coming off tomorrow.

The site is open to the public from Wednesday, June 30, from 9.30am until 4.30pm.

Due to covid, this year’s seven-week excavation must be different to previous years to keep staff and visitors safe.

  • To avoid crowding we can’t run our usual guided site tours
  • The viewing gallery will not be on site
  • The site is not open at weekends

Visitors do not need to book in advance but tour groups (of any size) must arrange their visit at least 48 hours in advance.

Once on site, we are asking all visitors to:

  • Respect the two-metre social-distancing rule
  • Stick to the one-way system in operation around the site

We have a much-smaller dig team this summer so only parts of the site can be opened up this year. In Trench P, this means only Structures Twelve and Ten will be uncovered and work will continue in Trench J, which contains Structure Five and the “Great Wall of Brodgar”.

Ominous skies over Trench J on Friday afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

Ominous skies over Trench J on Friday afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

Although this summer’s excavation area had to be reduced, it will actually be on much the same scale as it was in earlier years. Back then visitors were delighted by what they encountered – incredible archaeology at a working excavation in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

This year we hope that visitors won’t dwell on what they couldn’t see but instead on the remarkable things they did.

The excavation focus will be on the crucial, but very delicate, floor deposits within the buildings. Work to reach the primary occupation levels has been ongoing for years and that goal is now in sight.

Although the floors will take considerable time to excavate, disentangle and sample, this will reveal how these 5,000-year-old structures functioned and were used over their lifetimes.

As usual, the entire dig will be documented in our daily diaries, so keep an eye on the website and social media for the latest news.

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