An ambitious project to conduct the largest geophysical survey to-date of the island of Rousay in Orkney has begun. It is being led by a team from the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Römisch-Germanische Kommission (DAI) – which is based in Berlin – working together with archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Archaeology Institute.
To solidify the collaboration and create a long-term working partnership, a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutes was signed at Midhowe Broch (pictured) at the end of April. The memorandum aims to promote the exchange of staff, data, and technology, and also signalled the start of the first phase of the project, which focuses on connecting many of Rousay’s main archaeological sites that are currently being researched. The Boyne to Brodgar project – which, through studying prehistoric monuments, is working to learn more about the early people in Scotland and Ireland, placing them within their wider European context – is a particular focus. This work was supported by a Rousay workshop to bring together researchers working on similar areas across the North Atlantic region, as well as in comparative island environments. The goal was to address the issues of sustainability and the impact of climate and environmental changes on archaeological sites – problems that continually plague the region, particularly the island of Rousay (see CA 275).
‘We are very pleased and excited to be involved in this major international project on Rousay, and we are looking forward to seeing the results from the cutting-edge geophysics technology that the team from DAI have brought with them,’ said Professor Jane Downes, director of the UHI Archaeology Institute. ‘This will make a substantial contribution to the Boyne to Brodgar programme – an Irish/Scottish Neolithic research project. This fieldwork forms one of a whole series of projects happening on the island, including the Gateway to the Atlantic Workshop, and continues an archaeological survey involving experts from Historic Environment Scotland and UHI Archaeology Institute students. It is indeed an exciting time for archaeology in Orkney.’
This article appeared in CA 341.