Calling All Brochaholics!!!

By Bernie Bell

This year, the Orkney Archaeology Society’s Brochtoberfest was held at the UHI  Orkney College campus, Kirkwall, Orkney

Orkney College 2

If you’re thinking of studying archaeology, you could check out what’s available at the Orkney campus, here……

And here is the view you’ll have, to accompany your studies……………

View from Orkney College Bell

No’ bad, eh?

The brochy/general archaeology related stands and exhibits, were in the reception area of the College, where Hayley Green, Secretary of the OAS, presided over a table with OAS merchandise, and – this is Orkney – a raffle!

Brochtoberfest Hayley Green Bell OAS

The information boards included one about a broch that I wasn’t aware of, though it is right here on Orkney – the Howe of Hoxa, on South Ronaldsay.  Life is for learning!

The information was presented by Kath Page, under the heading of “Is There Value in Re-examining the Artefacts from The Howe of Hoxa?”

Brochtoberfest 2019 Howe of Hoxa Bell

This is a question which could be relevant to other sites, too.  Sites which were discovered, and even excavated, some time ago, but – methods, techniques and approaches move on, which means that some sites could be well worth re-examining in the light of new technology, as Jo McKenzie’s work at The Cairns broch, also on South Ronaldsay, so clearly shows.

The exhibits were a good example of the ‘human’ side of archaeological excavations. With cases containing Broch Bling, in the form of rings – or are they ear-rings?

Brochtoberfest 2019 rings Bell

And also, connecting with one of the information boards featuring the ‘Biography of an Iron Age Glass Toggle Bead from The Cairns’…

…there were some actual glass beads, found at  The Cairns, on display

And also, a larger, amber bead, maybe from a necklace?

Amber bead from the Cairns Bell

There was a case of combs………

Brochtoberfest 2019 combs Bell

We don’t change much, do we, us humans?  Putting on our bead bangles and necklaces, combing our hair, preparing for a celebration.

Another way we don’t change much – a case of items labelled ‘Gaming Pieces’, looking very similar to pieces used in games which have come down through the ages, such as draughts and chess.  There’s another image from the past – a gaming board, with Iron Age people, bent over it in concentration, working out their next move.

At the Ewe Garden Sculpture Trail, in West Cork, Republic of Ireland, there is a re-creation of a possible ancient gaming board, with pieces …….

Iron Age gaming pieces recreation Cork Bell

The Ewe Gardens Sculpture Trail is a very groovy place to visit………….

It’s very easy to picture the Iron Age people,  putting on their finery, amusing themselves – just like us.

 As well as the stands and exhibits, there was a schedule of presentations –

Brochtoberfest 2019 Bell

And there’s lots more brochy stuff, here………….

I’m still hoping that someone with cakey fingers, will work out how to make a  brocholate cake!  That’s what’s known as a combination of pleasures!

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  1. AND……….

    On Facebook, today……

    Caithness Broch Project

    In 2013, we made a Facebook page to tell people about brochs in Caithness.

    We were young and grass-roots but enthusiastic and ambitious. It was a slow start, but we were happy that we’d brought a bit of attention to this wee corner of Scotland. And we thought, “You know what, if nothing else happens, we’ll still be pretty happy that we did that.”

    Fast forward to 2019. It’s funny how expectations and ambitions have changed throughout the last six years. It’s been difficult, it’s been hard work, it’s been time-consuming – but it has a tremendous amount of fun!

    And so we’re very excited to announce something we’ve been working on for nearly three years – our biggest project to date…

    We have been awarded £180,000 to carry out the conservation of Ousdale Burn Broch!

    This is a project very close to our hearts, ever since we reported the condition of the broch in 2015. In 2017 we began efforts in earnest to conserve Ousdale Burn Broch, arguably one of the ‘best’ brochs in Caithness, and one we believe is worth ‘saving’, as it adds considerably to the archaeological landscape and record of Caithness, as well as being a beautiful and iconic spot for potential tourists to visit. It’s the first thing they’d see upon entering our fine county, after all!

    Archaeological and environmental works were carried out earlier in the year, and now car-parking creation and conservation works are being carried out as we speak, with access / trail improvements occurring in December.

    We would like to thank SSE’s Beatrice Caithness Community Fund, Historic Environment Scotland Historic Environment Repair Grant scheme and the Highland LEADER Programme who have made this work possible.

    So, whilst we’re a wee bit older now, we’re still ambitious and enthusiastic – and still focussed on our aim of building a replica broch as a major tourist attraction. We hope that this project is just the start of a shinier and even more archaeology-driven Caithness!

    We’ll keep you posted as best as possible throughout the works.
    Photos by Jim Richardson, Photographer of National Geographic. Aerial photos by Caithness Broch Project.

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