“Well, yesterday we finally completed the excavation of the larger northern ditch trench. In all honesty it looked absolutely spectacular.
It certainly took us a lot of time and energy simply removing its soft silts and fill. Completely rock-cut, the ditch in this sector is deep, very broad and flat-bottomed.
Working at its base makes you realise just how impressive this monument must have appeared when it was first excavated back in the third millennium BC.
Similarly, you appreciate the sheer scale of labour that was involved in cutting through the rock to form the ditch, let alone in quarrying and moving the stones forming the circle.
The colours of rock have been influenced by water logging so the orange brown Orkney flagstones gives way to a deep grey-blue near the base of the ditch.
Strangely enough this actually gives the appearance of water standing in the ditch bottom. From this evidence it is quite clear that in the northern area, at least, standing water collected soon after the ditch was dug. This may seem strange, but it is worth remembering that the surrounding ditch was cut to enclose the area of the stone circle and in the Orcadian island world water surrounded islands and people. Therefore, the use of water to create a division – to separate it from the rest of the world – was an appropriate strategy employing everyday imagery.”
For full article by Colin Richards go to: http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/ringofbrodgar/index.html
The image above of the Ring of Brodgar includes computer generated ‘missing’ stones occupying stone sockets discovered only yesterday by the 2008 excavation team.
“An exciting day today, with Norma and Adrian Challands confirming the presence of no less that 19 stone sockets, running from the edge of Trench C, clockwise past the south-eastern causeway, to Trench A. Including the surviving stones and stumps, this means 36 stones once stood in that section (roughly half) of the stone circle.
The sockets were placed at a distance three metres apart. The number hints that the Ring of Brodgar could have contained more than the 60 it has long been believed to contain.
A survey of the final section will be required to confirm this.”
For the original article and more pictures: http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/ringofbrodgar/index.html
Excavations at the Ring of Brodgar began on 9th July, 2008.
“The Ring of Brodgar is one of the largest Neolithic stone circles in Britain. Yet we know surprisingly little about it – in particular its age.
This summer, for the first time in 35 years, archaeologists are carrying out excavations at the Ring, hoping to answer a number of long-standing questions. . .”
“The Ring stands on the Ness of Brodgar, a low-lying isthmus, separating the lochs of Harray and Stenness, centrally placed within the large natural bowl of western Mainland, Orkney.
However, when it comes to the Ring of Brodgar very little is actually known about this amazing site – instead interpretation has been constructed on the basis of the characteristics of other sites.”
As a ‘monument’ the Ring of Brodgar is not alone. Together with the Stones of Stenness, a much smaller stone circle set within an enclosing ditch, it forms part of a monumental group, which also includes Maeshowe and a number of standing stones.
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ONE OF Western Europe’s most impressive prehistoric sites and the third largest stone circle in the British Isles—Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar—is the subject of a major archaeological project to start next week.
A month-long programme will be undertaken by a 15-strong team of archaeologists and scientists from Orkney College, the University of The Highlands and Islands, Manchester University, Stirling University and The Scottish Universities Environment Reactor Centre.
Their aim will be to gather information which will enable a much better understanding of the nature of this iconic site.
A Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Property in the Care of the Scottish Government through Historic Scotland, the stone circle is part of ‘The Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ World Heritage Site, inscribed by UNESCO in 1999.
Very little is actually known about this amazing ancient site, including its exact age and purpose.
The last important archaeological studies undertaken on it were in the early 1970s by Professor Lord Colin Renfrew.
Since then, significant developments have taken place in analytical techniques such as dating.
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