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Neolithic village found in Orkney sheds new light on Stone Age life

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« on: August 18, 2007, 06:35:16 am »

Neolithic village found in Orkney sheds new light on Stone Age life

David Lister

The remains of a Neolithic settlement discovered in Orkney were hailed yesterday as potentially as important as the Skara Brae village on the islands.

The 2.5 hectare site is believed to date back nearly 5,000 years and to include a complex system of temples and dwellings spread over two fields. The find, at Ness of Brodgar, between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness, will add to the area’s reputation as home to some of the most remarkable archaeological monuments in Europe.

Nick Card, project manager at the dig, began excavations two months ago with a team from Orkney College and Orkney Archaeological Trust. He said that the discovery had the potential to rank alongside Skara Brae, the Stone Age village that is now part of a World Heritage Site. “The discovery has the potential to illuminate how these different sites interacted and how people lived,” he said. “We are hopeful that every aspect of life 5,000 years ago will be clarified by our discoveries. This is not just about Neolithic life in the north of Scotland; it could have ramifications for the study of the Stone Age throughout Britain.”

Only a small part of the settlement has so far been unearthed, but it includes large oval stone buildings subdivided into small chambers, almost certainly temples. Other buildings are believed to be domestic.

Mr Card said: “What we have is a whole series of buildings; we’ve only managed to open a tiny percentage of what is actually here. The buildings which we have uncovered are of a kind never seen before. Some of the structures do appear to be domestic in nature but one, the main structure in the big trench, is much more complex, with very symmetrical architecture.” Other findings include a Neolithic mace head and beautifully decorated stones, as well as stone tools and burnt animal bones. Mr Card said that the team had uncovered “pottery by the bucketful”.

Julie Gibson, one of the archaeologists involved, said that the find would help researchers to understand the relationship between neighbouring Neolithic sites, including stone circles on the Ring of Brodgar, a promontory between two lochs, the Maeshowe chambered tomb and the Stones of Stenness.

Thousands of tourists visit Orkney each year to view its Neolithic monuments, widely considered to be among the finest in Europe. Archaeologists believe that it could be many years before the full extent of the dig is uncovered.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2007, 06:36:02 am by Prometheus » Report Spam   Logged

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