This year’s summer exhibition is set to be really interesting and significant, with finds from the Ness of Brodgar excavation being on display both in the main ground floor gallery and the Pilot’s House. Probably everyone in Orkney (and many in the rest of the world!), will have heard the Ness of Brodgar through the Neil Oliver BBC programme, the National Geographic and local and national news coverage, or a visit to the site.
The Ness of Brodgar is a 5000-year-old settlement of spectacular ‘big houses’ situated on the thin point of land between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. The excavations at the Ness of Brodgar are being directed by Nick Card of ORCA, part of the newly established University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute at Orkney College and have been ongoing since 2007, gathering momentum with ever more impressive buildings and artefacts being discovered. The excavations are revealing buildings that are much larger and more monumental than the village of Skara Brae, and much better preserved than the nearby settlement of Barnhouse (excavated by new Trustee Colin Richards during the 1980s) – both also 5,000 years old.
The Ness of Brodgar excavations are located for the most part on Ola and Arnie Tait’s land, and they most generously permit the excavations with the attendant crowds of diggers and visitors to the site during the summer. The other part of the excavations are under the Loch View house and land, purchased by an anonymous benefactor for the Ness of Brodgar Trust to secure the site for future research.
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to view some of the finds from the Ness of Brodgar that have not previously been on display to the public, and view an array of the mass of intriguing decorated stone slabs that are being studied by archaeologist Antonia Thomas, one of the Museum’s Working Group members, as her PhD research at UHI. During the excavation period (6th July- 28th August) visitors will be able to tie in their visit to the Museum exhibition with a visit to the site; tours are given to the public at 11.00, 13.00 and 15.00 Monday to Friday, and 11.00 and 15.00 Saturday and Sunday.
The summer exhibition will also draw visitors’ attention to the fine collection of artefacts from Skara Brae, some of which are displayed upstairs as part of the permanent exhibition – and some of which are loaned to Historic Scotland and form an important part of the Skara Brae Visitor Centre display. We hope that this exhibition will attract a large number of visitors to the Museum and we hope that you will be one of them!
Professor Jane Downes Kirkpatrick