Orkney could be an open-air archaeology museum. Sites such as Skara Brae and Maes Howe fire the imagination with their spectacular preservation. Yet while many of the archipelago’s big-name sites were dug in the first half of the 20th century, fieldwork has not rested on its laurels. Today, Orkney continues to play a leading role in attempts to tease out our prehistoric past. This issue we celebrate some of the latest discoveries.
Britain is studded with major Neolithic monuments, but opportunities to pry into the first farmers’ home life remain rare. Now excavations at the Links of Noltland have revealed a multitude of prehistoric dwellings, including a near-complete Neolithic house where a seemingly innocuous blocked doorway revealed a unique hidden shrine, and a new side to prehistoric life.
In 1901 the Reverend Goodfellow delved into a low mound at the Cairns, swiftly exposing a souterrain. In the 1960s the farmer chanced upon a subterranean structure in the same field. But in neither case is it possible to piece together exactly what was discovered. A project designed to clear up the confusion struck unexpected archaeological riches, including a massive, broch-like monument.
To what extent has the sea shaped island life? Following the story from the inundation of Doggerland through to the arrival of the Vikings, we examine how the North Sea served as a conduit for ideas and exotica, as well as an arena where personal prowess could be proved.
Coastal erosion is damaging numerous sites on Rousay. A multinational team is racing against time to learn what they can before these monuments are lost forever, and overturning some long-held theories along the way.
Finally, you’ll find all the latest on the Current Archaeology conference. Tickets are selling fast, it would be great to see you there.
SANDS OF TIME
Domestic ritual at the Links of Noltland
Contemporary with the Ness of Brodgar’s ritual monuments but with a much more domestic focus, what can this settlement tell us about everyday life in prehistoric Orkney?
From broch builders to Viking traders
A riot of Iron Age archaeological remains are proving more important than the site’s antiquarian discoverer could have dreamed — as well as shedding light on Scandinavian incomers.
CONNECTED BY THE SEA
The early history of seafaring
Balancing the often land-based focus of our island story, we explore tales of heroism and prehistoric travellers in foreign lands.
Racing against sea and tide
Coastal erosion has revealed a wealth of archaeological material from brochs to burnt mounds. What can rescue excavations reveal about the island’s prehistoric population?
Staffordshire Hoard field: new Saxon finds; Artificial isles of wonder; Roman outreach; An Iron Age Canterbury tale; Longer in the tooth; Star Carr’s star finds; Monumental changes at Stonehenge
The latest details of Current Archaeology Live! 2013
Egypt in England; Villa Landscapes in the Roman North; A Bioarchaeological Study of Medieval Burials on the Site of St Mary Spital; First Souvenirs
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues.
Andrew Selkirk talks about archaeological funding and the private purse
The Computer Conservation Society