By Bernie Bell
I’ve never stood in the excavations at the Ness of Brodgar – I’m not allowed! But I have skirted around the edges, and looked down at the site from the viewing platform which is erected every year for the dig season.
By doing so, I’ve been able to watch the structures, year by year, rising from the earth, to stand clear of the earth, as they do now.
The Ness of Brodgar Dig Diary has been a boon, especially for folk who can’t get to the Ness at all.
Here’s a random excerpt, to give some idea of how the diary ‘works’ – this one has bits of all sorts – different kinds of finds – science stuff etc.….. https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/dig-diary-wednesday-july-25-2012/
The Dig Diary keeps the public up to date with developments – what has been found, and what the plans might be for the next stage of excavation. It also gives anyone who is thinking of volunteering, a good idea of what they might encounter – not only the wonderful finds, but also the, sometimes atrocious, Orkney ‘summer’ weather!
Actually going there is best – by far – if you can. Reading the Dig Diary is next best thing – each day, when the dig is happening, click on the site (web, not place!) and – you simply never know what might have been found the day before. Often, very significant finds turn up right at the end of the dig, as if to entice us as to what might be found – next year.
There have been a couple of booklets about the excavations at the Ness, and a tremendous book by Antonia Thomas about the ‘art’ which has been discovered there – as mentioned here https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/11/06/the-ness-of-brodgar-as-it-stands/
But, as also mentioned in that piece of writing, there was no definitive book about the whole excavation so far, in all its wonder.
This need has now been met, by a book called ‘The Ness of Brodgar: As It Stands’ by People of the Ness – Nick Card, Mark Edmonds and Anne Mitchell…..
I miss the place, as the dig couldn’t happen this year due to You Know What. Mike and I go and stand and lean over the gate to the field where the site is, but that tends to make me feel wistful!
So, it was with a strong sense of anticipation, that I stepped into book.
For someone who has been following the dig from the start, at any level, some of the content is familiar territory, but still worth re-visiting, as it’s been ‘pulled together’ – the progress of the dig, the finds, the science, the planning and hopes for the next stages.
How could anyone tire of the Ness? However many times you read of it or see images of the finds and the structures, emerging from a jumble of stones to reveal – standing walls, shapes of buildings, even some actual ‘Standing Stones’. It’s always of interest.
Equally, for someone who has never been there, maybe never even heard of it! – this book is a good introduction to what’s there – to start them wondering what it’s all about – to entice them to find out more.
The content isn’t limited to just The Ness, or even the rest of Orkney – this book extends to the connections and relevance of the finds at the Ness, with the wider world, including what I like to think of as The Irish Connection.
It is described by the editors as an ‘interim monograph’ – and that what it is – it’s part of the story – the story so far – and it leads the reader to want to find out more, and to hope that this excavation continues….and continues….so that the archaeologists can reveal more….and more.
‘The Ness of Brodgar: As It Stands’ tells you the tale – so far – and gives you the facts – it’s also a reet good read!
It’s all in there – and they’re all in there, too – today’s Ness community!
A perfect Christmas present – lots of pictures! And….by buying it from the Orcadian bookshop, you will be supporting a local independent retailer.
All in all – no’ bad. Go on, order one…..or two…….or more. Maybe even a signed copy?
Aaaaaand……..If you’d like to help to ensure that the dig does continue – all contributions gratefully received, here….. https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/donate/
Unfortunately, last posting dates for Australia & New Zealand have gone.
The final date for receipt of orders for the US is Thursday, December 10, and for European orders will be Sunday, December 13.
For the UK, Wednesday, December 16.