Local News

If You’d Like To Support The Dig At The Cairns….Even Though It Isn’t Happening….For Now!

By Bernie Bell

On Saturday, Fiona (G) published the surprising news that the archaeology dig at The Cairns, South Ronaldsay has had to be cancelled…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2022/06/11/cancellation-of-the-cairns-dig/

This was something of a shock and, personally and purely selfishly, a blow. As being Covid Careful means that I can’t go to the Exhibition about The Cairns in the Stromness Museum  https://archaeologyorkney.com/2022/05/06/cairns-stromness-exhibition/  the dig, which is all outdoors, was going to be my way of keeping up with developments at The Cairns in ‘real life’ – not just on-line. 

I very grumpily crossed off the dates from our calendar.  Mike was planning to take a day off work and we were going to go down there and taken some cash with us to put in a donations bucket, but as that is not to be – how do we go about donating? 

As the dig isn’t happening the project will lose out on a major fundraising opportunity, so I asked the good folk at Orkney Archaeology Society how to donate as there isn’t a specific site for The Cairns.  We followed this link…. https://shop.orkneyarchaeologysociety.org.uk/donation-oas/ , then ‘followed our noses’ and, in the ‘comments‘ box, asked for the donation to go to The Cairns dig.  No probs!

The cancellation is also a blow more generally because the dig at The Cairns is so very important archeologically.  As I previously wrote…..

It’s 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. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/10/23/the-broch-of-gurness-brochtoberfest-iii/

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!”

A  reminder of what a very big deal The Cairns dig is…..

I’m just hoping that all is well with the people there – the dig can continue later.  So much has been found and done already – there will be more – and they still need funding!


Click on this YouTube link for a series of films about The Cairns: The Cairns Broch

And this most recent one

Leave a Reply