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Brodgar Farm

Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible), Structure (Neolithic)

Site Name Brodgar Farm

Classification Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible), Structure (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Lochview; Trench T

Canmore ID 2106

Site Number HY31SW 20

NGR HY 3039 1280

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/2106

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Stenness
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY31SW 20 3039 1280.

'... at the north-west end of the Bridge of Brodgar is a large dilapidated tumulus, which appears to be the ruin of an ancient stone building, perhaps a Pict's castle; close by it are two small standing stones (HY31SW 10).'

F W L Thomas 1852.

'The dilapidated traces of a ruined cairn or mound...' in which a number of relics of an unspecified nature have been found.

RCAHMS 1946.

All that remains of the mound is an area of disturbed ground, approx. 20.0 m. diameter, situated at HY 3039 1280 at the top of a low ridge. It has been extensively quarried on its NE side, near the road, and reduced on its SW side by cultivation. Its original size and typology cannot

be ascertained.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 11 May 1966.

In the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) is an incised stone sinker and an ornamental stone ball, almost certainly from this tumulus.

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1885 (articles exhibited); Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1888 (Donations); J Noble 1888; RCAHMS 1946.

Activities

Excavation (4 July 2016 - 26 August 2016)

HY 303 129 (HY31SW 20 and 112) Further investigation of the Neolithic complex on the Ness of Brodgar was undertaken, 4 July – 26 August 2016. The main structures were further investigated to clarify their relationships and the individual biographies of each building. Micromorphic sampling of both floors and middens again complemented other sampling strategies including archaeomagnetic and onsite XRF analysis.

In Trench T near the southern tip of the Ness of Brodgar Peninsular more of the late pits cut into the lower slopes of the midden mound were excavated and the underlying middens removed to reveal more of the robbed out remains of Structure 27.

Initially Structure 27’s form appeared to resemble the Bookan-style of tomb; however, in 2016 its construction was shown to be unique. Although the outer wall faces are constructed of fine, large masonry, the inner wall faces are much rougher, but would have been hidden behind upright

orthostats ‘cladding’ the internal wall faces. Large prone orthostats up to 4m in length set on edge helped to support the orthostat lining. Side recesses were created along the side walls by orthostats perpendicular to the internal walls. The lack of apparent domestic features (including the absence of the use of midden in the wall cores) may suggest a funerary function. The symmetry, scale (internally c7.5m wide), and unique construction methods is presently without parallel. Although not clearly defined in the earth resistance surveys, a slight sub-oval anomaly c20m SW/NE by 15m, could be the outline of this building. This may be set within a larger, sub-circular enclosure, c50m diameter again revealed by resistance.

Further excavation was also undertaken in the sondage through the midden mound, which is formed of numerous individual midden heaps. This confirmed the spatial patterning revealed in 2015.

Report: NRHE and Orkney SMR

Funder: Orkney Islands Council, Ness of Brodgar Trust, American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar, Foundation for World Health, Orkney College UHI, and Orkney Archaeology Society

Nick Card - ORCA and Archaeology Institute, UHI

(Source: DES, Volume 17)

Excavation (3 July 2017 - 25 August 2017)

HY 303 129 (HY31SW 20 and 112)

Further investigation of the Neolithic complex on the Ness of Brodgar was undertaken, 3 July – 25 August 2017. The main structures were further investigated to clarify their relationships and the individual biographies of each building. Micromorphic sampling of both floors and middens again complemented other sampling strategies including archaeomagnetic and onsite XRF analysis.

Trench T near the southern tip of the Ness of Brodgar was squared off in order to reveal more of the plan of Structure 27 (12.3 wide by at least 17m long overall). More of the late pits cut into the lower slopes of the overlying midden mound were excavated with some pits exhibiting partial rough dry stone lining. A total of >50 pits have now been excavated. Some of the pits were evidently the result of the robbing of Structure 27. The number and complexity of these pits prevented floor levels in Structure 27 being further exposed. However, its plan has been clarified with the SW end wall and more of the internal wall lining being revealed. As suggested last year Structure 27 was lined by vertical orthostats partially held in place by 4m long orthostats lain on edge. A new partially exposed orthostat on the same alignment as the side walls but near the central axis of the structure may be part of an entrance arrangement / passage. The thickness of the walls, c2.4m, would suggest that this structure was not corbelled. A few stone slates previously found imply a roofing system similar to other buildings at the Ness. The southern external corner was also clarified and confirmed the quality of the build with stepped foundations and some slabs exhibiting pick dressing. Further stone slabbed external drains were also discovered at its SW end.

Report: Orkney SMR and NRHE (intended)

Funder: Orkney Islands Council, Ness of Brodgar Trust, American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar, Foundation for World Health, UHI Archaeology Institute, Orkney Archaeology Society

Nick Card – ORCA and Archaeology Institute, UHI

(Source: DES, Volume 18)

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