Poetry From Archaeology –

By Bernie Bell

Or  – A Begging Letter!

The recent Open Days at the Ness of Brodgar   https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/dig-diary-sunday-july-21-2019/ , and The Cairns  https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/07/11/the-cairns-on-a-sunny-sunny-open-day/ , plus the on-going work at the  Knowe of Swandro  https://www.swandro.co.uk/ and  Skaill Farm, Rousay  https://archaeologyorkney.com/2019/07/04/uhi-archaeology-institute-team-return-to-skaill-farm/, and at Cata Sand, Tresness Chambered Tomb and Loth Road Bronze Age House, on Sanday  https://archaeologyorkney.com/tag/sanday/ , to name but a few, reminds me of how much these significant archaeological digs depend on public funding. So, I’ve drawn together my poems/rhymes relating to the digs, which have previously appeared in The Orkney News.  I’ve brought them together, and present them to the public, hoping to ignite interest in the digs, and help to raise funds for Orkney archaeology.

The digs mentioned here, are mainly funded by public donations – they wouldn’t happen, without you. The public are enormously generous, year after year, but I’m afraid that archaeology doesn’t come cheap these days, and become more and more expensive, year after year,  as new techniques and revelatory processes are developed  – all of which cost a pretty penny. Every penny helps, every pound, helps even more!

I’ll start with the dig at the Ness of Brodgar, which is very well known now, but what might not be so well known, is the average cost of this dig – here is a typical ‘shopping list’ for the Ness for Brodgar, as seen, very appropriately,  stuck to the side of the site shop …

Ness of Brodgar funding B Bell

And here are links to my poems/rhymes relating to the Ness………



The dig at the Knowe of Swandro is pretty much a rescue operation.  I am full of  admiration for the people there, trying to excavate and record the site, as the sea eats away it at it, year after year, winter after winter.  Whilst doing so, they are discovering and revealing a range of structures, covering a range of levels and forms of occupation.  Also, a whole range of artefacts, from the very solid Swandro Stone, which has the handprint, in carbon, of a Pictish metal worker – think about it – a handprint – an actual hand print, of a person…..


….to a delicate decorated needle-case (?), which you can see here………..


The dig diary also provides information about how you can donate to the dig, and help these hard-working, optimistic people to do what they can for the site.

There are the other digs, some of which I’ve mentioned, which don’t have specific websites, but donations can be made via the Orkney Archaeology Society https://orkneyarchaeologysociety.org.uk/ , either for specific sites, or for Orkney Archaeology in general.

And here are my two rhymes, on a more general theme of digging through the, to the, past………….




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