Nick’s Round-Up!

By Bernie Bell

Nick Card – Director of the dig at the Ness of Brodgar – doesn’t wear a cowboy hat for nothing!  Each year, usually in June, he has a Round-Up – of progress at the Ness.

I remember when Nick’s round-up used to take place in the St. Magnus Centre, in Kirkwall – not a very big room, well attended, much interest, and of interest,  with tea, biscuits, and chat to follow.

Then it moved to the Stenness School/Community Centre.  A much bigger room – lots more people, still tea and biscuits, and, one year, celebratory wine! The Ness was ’taking off’.

After one of the Stenness round-ups, me and Mike and Jeanne and Pam went to visit the nearby Deepdale stone…

Deepdale Stone

Unstan Cairn…….

Unstan Cairn

And Barnhouse Neolithic ‘village’…


….as a fitting mini-pilgrimage to honour the revelations taking place in the Neolithic Heart of Orkney.

The dig at the Ness expanded, and so did Nick’s round-up, which moved to the Orkney Arts Theatre at Kirkwall Grammar School.  Not just a bigger room, but a huge auditorium, which, for the last few years, has been filled with folk, eager to know more about the progress and developments at the Ness.  People now know that they need to get there early to get, not just a good seat, but to get a seat at all!

In the foyer, there were stalls with displays and Ness merchandise, and, as this is Orkney, there was always a raffle. The event has out-grown providing tea and biscuits – just too many people to cater for!

This year, however, due to You-Know-What – the dig at the Ness, and Nick’s round-up, couldn’t take place, but, for ardent followers of the Ness excavations, there are on-line events included in the Orkney International Science Festival …

The plus side of this is that you can sit comfortably, at home, with your own tea and biscuits, and watch and listen to Them As Knows, talk us through what’s happened and what is planned to be happening, at the Ness.

If you’re thinking of archaeological Christmas presents, and missing the stalls at Nicks round-up and the shop at the Ness dig site – here it is – .  The Orkney Archaeology Society also has an on-line shop –

The Ness dig will resume next year, if The Fates allow. The ’N’ Team will already be planning and preparing the best ways to approach such a massive and significant site. 

They will plan, and the dig will resume, but what they can’t plan for, are the many  surprises and wonders which emerge each year, whether in the shape of extra- ordinary objects, or in the shape of extra-ordinary structures, such as those being un-earthed in Trench T.  I may have mentioned Trench T before?  And I will, no doubt, mention it again.

Maybe you could come along to the Ness, next dig season, and see for yourself?  Maybe become part of the story.

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