Orkney

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DNA analysis sheds light on whalebone use in Iron Age Orkney

Recent DNA analysis of whalebone artefacts found at The Cairns, Orkney, has shed light on the relationship between these marine mammals and the site’s Iron Age community, as well as hinting why the large local broch may have been demolished in the 2nd century AD.

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Current Archaeology 361

Jersey and Guernsey are famous for their prehistoric archaeology, but the smaller Channel Island of Sark is less well known. Since 2004, though, Barry Cunliffe has been striving to bring the stories of its earliest inhabitants to light. Lying closer to France than to Britain, the Channel Islands show close cultural ties to the Continent […]

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Summer of finds at the Ness of Brodgar

As this year’s dig season at the Ness of Brodgar came to an end, an international team of archaeologists uncovered a surprising subterranean structure, shedding more light on the sophistication of the first farmers who built this site 5,000 years ago.

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Norse hall discovered on Rousay

A large Viking-Age hall has been discovered during recent excavations at Skaill Farmstead on the island of Rousay, Orkney. Dating to the 10th-12th centuries AD, the outline of the structure was revealed by a team of archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Archaeology Institute, who have been digging at the site for a number of seasons.

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Remains of Kirkwall Castle revealed

The remains of a long-destroyed medieval castle have been unearthed by the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) during a watching brief for a road infrastructure project in the centre of Kirkwall, Orkney.

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Science Notes – Fashioning the face of man’s best friend

Facial reconstructions have become an increasingly common output of archaeological analysis. From the dark-skinned Cheddar Man (see CA 337) to the battle-scarred men from the Mary Rose, these life-like models put a face (literally) on the past in a way that artefacts cannot. Now, a reconstruction has been created from the skull of a Neolithic dog, opening up new possibilities for the ways in which this forensic technique may be used in the future. But how are these models created, and how accurate are they? In this month’s ’Science Notes‘, we explore the details of this technique and how it was applied to a canine from Orkney.

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Orkney bowl shows signs of repair

Post-excavation analysis of the oldest wooden bowl yet found in Orkney (see CA 343), has revealed details of its Iron Age use. Found by a team from UHI Archaeology Institute, during last summer’s excavation at the Cairns site in South Ronaldsay, the bowl was discovered in a stone chamber known as the ‘The Well’, beneath an Iron Age broch. As little is known about the function of this ‘well’, it was hoped that the bowl could provide some clues.

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Current Archaeology 343

As I write, with a mid-August downpour hammering on the roof, this summer’s sweltering heatwave already feels a lifetime ago. During those drier times, though, the parched ground yielded a wealth of archaeological secrets as the ghostly outlines of buried features became strikingly clear. Hundreds of monuments, settlements, and other sites have been captured in […]

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Orkney’s oldest bowl unearthed?

The latest excavation season in Orkney has uncovered a cornucopia of finds. these include what may be the oldest wooden bowl yet discovered in the archipelago, unearthed at the cairns, South Ronaldsay, by a team from the UHI Archaeology Institute.

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Raising a (Pictish) hand at the Knowe of Swandro

A Pictish coppersmith has left his prints – literally – on the remains of his workshop, recently excavated on Rousay, Orkney. This discovery was made at the Knowe of Swandro, a multiperiod site that includes a Neolithic chambered tomb as well as subsequent Iron Age, Pictish, Viking, and Norse settlements, but which is slowly slipping into the sea. In a race against the tide, the Swandro-Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust, along with a host of partners, is working to excavate and record the site before it is too late.

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