Early settlements in Orkney and Caithness

Map of Orkney & Caithness

Original topographic map by Equestenebrarum via Wikimedia Commons.


Two fascinating archaeological projects have been going on in the far north of Scotland. Information can be found at their respective blogs via the links below.

In Orkney, this year’s summer excavation at The Cairns on South Ronaldsay ended a couple of weeks ago. The Cairns is the site of a substantial Iron Age settlement near Windwick Bay on the eastern side of the island. At its heart are the remains of a broch – a huge stone tower – which may have been built as early as the fourth century BC. The broch’s walls are 5 metres thick, making it one of the largest examples of its type. In recent years, archaeologists have been unearthing new pieces of evidence and joining them together to build up a history not just of the broch itself but of the entire site around it. What has emerged is a remarkable insight into how this place was used by successive generations of inhabitants over a period of several thousand years, from Neolithic times to the Iron Age, and from the era of the Picts and Vikings to c.1150 AD.

Link The Cairns Project

——

In Caithness, a project to locate and investigate the remains of prehistoric settlements is shedding light on a previously little-known period in the area’s archaeology. Laser-scanning with LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has enabled archaeologists to identify previously unrecorded features that traditional aerial photography might otherwise fail to pick up. This new technology is revealing a rich Bronze Age landscape of hut circles, mounds and other sites which can be surveyed on the ground. The sites will now be studied alongside the chambered cairns – long regarded as the primary prehistoric evidence from Caithness – to build up a more detailed picture of how local people interacted with the land 3000 years ago.

Link Bronze Age Caithness

* * * * * * *

Advertisements

2 comments on “Early settlements in Orkney and Caithness

  1. dearieme says:

    Good grief.

    “the Westray aurochs — the first genetically verified identification of the animals in Orkney — were not native to the isles and had to have been brought in.” “These skulls have been radiocarbon dated to between 3000BC and 2500BC.”

    “Aurochs were much larger than most modern domestic cattle, having a shoulder height of around two metres and weighing in at 1,000 kilograms. On the Scottish mainland, aurochs were probably extinct by the Bronze Age …”

    So Neolithic men shipped in wild cattle weighing a ton each across the Pentland Firth? My bet is that they shipped in calves, but still! Still! You’d have thought that surrounding yourselves with wild cattle of that size might be a bit risky.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s