Forging Links Between Archaeologists in Orkney and Germany

Broch of Midhowe RousayMidhowe Broch on the island of Rousay was the scene of the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UHI Archaeology Institute and  the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Römisch-Germanische Kommission (DAI).

Rousay, also known as the Egypt of the North contains a wealth of archaeology from the Neolithic up to the major changes in land use that came with the Clearances on the island.

signing the memorandum of understanding ON

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding L to R Professor Jane Downes, Professor Eszter Banffy and OIC Convener Harvey Johnston

Professor Jane Downes, Director of the Archaeology Institute at UHI explains what it means for her Department and Orkney to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

Professor Jane Downes,said:

“We are very pleased and excited to be involved in this major international project on Rousay and we are looking forward to seeing the results from the cutting-edge geophysics technology that the team from DAI have brought with them. This will make a substantial contribution to the “Boyne to Brodgar” programme- an Irish/Scottish Neolithic research project.”

Professor Eszter Banffy, Director of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Römisch-Germanische Kommission (DAI) based in Berlin signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of her Institute.

Professor Downes continued:

“This fieldwork forms one of a whole series of projects happening on the island over the next two weeks including the ‘Gateway to the Atlantic Workshop’ that this week will bring together archaeological scientists working particularly on coastal erosion, climate change and heritage in the North Atlantic and Arctic, and the following week continues an archaeological survey involving experts from Historic Environment Scotland and UHI Archaeology Institute students. We are signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the DAI, for partnership working longer term. It is indeed an exciting time for archaeology in Orkney.”

The Convener of Orkney Islands Council , Harvey Johnston was present to witness the signatories.

Archaeologists from Historic Environment Scotland were also on Rousay surveying the area around Skaill Farm which they started last year.

The Memorandum of Understanding which also includes Orkney College confirms that the 3 organisations will co-operate on:

  • The exchange of personnel
  • Joint research projects and workshops
  • Technical support and training
  • Other joint projects which will be specified at a later date

The German team have been able to survey much larger areas of the Western Valley and in the North East around the Neolithic settlement of Rinyo. Their state of the art technology also means that the coverage is not just extensive but also comprehensive. Pulling all the surveying techniques together with physical archaeology and previous research will provide an incredible study of landscape use. The new information will help to determine whether monuments and settlements are linked.

Watch: Rousay Egypt of the North April 2018

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

Related story: Rousay to Reveal More Archaeological Wonders


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