The Dates For The Cairns!!!

By Bernie Bell

After a pause of two years the archaeology dig at The Cairns, Windwick, South Ronaldsay, is set to happen again!!

For the last two years them as knows very wisely decided not to go ahead with the excavation, but now this year it’s definitely happening – or as definite as anything is in these time when uncertainty is the new certainty. 

The dates are……. June the 13th to July the 8th and the organizers hope to have an Open Day – though visitors are welcome any time when archaeologists are on site.

It hard to encapsulate the importance of the discovery of the broch at The Cairns.  Orkney has many brochs, in various states between a grassy hummock in the landscape, to the magnificent Broch of Gurness near Evie village.

The Broch of Gurness is a fine place to visit to get a good idea of what a broch and its associated settlement can be.  But when the Broch of Gurness was being excavated the approach to excavation, methods used and technology available weren’t as advanced as they are now.

The discovery of a completely ‘new’ broch site, ripe for excavation was an exceptional opportunity, and the right man was put in charge of the dig – Martin Carruthers – Broch-man Extra-ordinaire.  The site at The Cairns has revealed not only impressive structures but also much about what life in a broch might have been like.  There are bones and shells – evidence of feasting?  Hair combs, beads and moulds for jewellery – possibly to wear when feasting!

An absolutely stunning find was of wooden objects and human hair, both of which we found in the structure known as The Well.

Grain and other seeds found tell us what was growing in the area at the time, and the work of Jo McKenzie reveals much from infinitesimal traces found in the different layers of soil deposits across the site. 

There is more information about The Cairns here…..

And on the UHI Archaeology Institute blog…..

These discoveries are being made – right now.  If you can, go along and ask questions – they like it if you do!

I’m excited that the dig is happening again – imagine how the archaeologists must feel!

I hope they find more Nice Stuff…..

And on the subject of Nice Stuff……..there will be an exhibition in the Stromness Museum dedicated to the dig at  The Cairns, which will include……………the bowl!

It’s from the 7th of May to the end of October.  I’m not risking going in high season – still being Covid wary – so, probably won’t get there until October – when I will get very excited and witter on about it!

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