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Date 7 July 2008 - 1 August 2008

Event ID 614015

Category Recording

Type Excavation


HY 2945 1335 Two trenches were excavated across the ditch at opposite ends of the Ring of Brodgar from 7 July–1 August 2008 as part of a larger programme of work. The trenches re-excavated and slightly extended Trenches A and C from Colin Renfrew’s 1973 investigations and focussed on the removal of ditch fills to obtain material for a range of dating applications.

The rock-cut ditch in Trench A, which was abandoned in 1973 due to waterlogging, was shown to have been quarried out in segments and provides the first clear evidence for the method of excavation, suggesting that the great ditch was dug in sections over a period of time, and/or that various communities contributed to its construction. No tool marks were visible on the rock face and it is likely that the rock was excavated using wooden wedges.

In addition to the excavation of the ditch fills, a previously unrecorded stonehole was investigated in Trench C. The severe disturbance around the base of the cut for the stonehole indicates that this stone had been toppled in antiquity. This, along with the discovery of a ramp associated with the stonehole in Trench A, provides new information relating to the construction of the stone circle itself. No evidence for an internal or external bank associated with the monument was discovered during these excavations.

The analysis of the samples taken from the ditch fills in both trenches should provide significant new information about the construction and subsequent history of the monument.

J Downes and C RIchards, ORCA 2008

Report: Orkney SMR and RCAHMS (intended) Funder: Historic Scotland, Orkney Islands Council, Manchester University, ORCA and Orkney College

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