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Iron Age Orkney – follow The Cairns Project now!

Thank goodness for the internet. Can you imagine the trouble we’d have catching up with excavations from all corners of the country without it? I say this as a really interesting project has just started this season’s dig. In archaeology-speak season really means year! Anyway, what I want to draw your attention to is The Cairns Project which is based on South Ronaldsay.

As with many other projects, there is a history of excavation going back many years, in this case over 100; and as with many other projects many of these excavations took place before the development of modern techniques of excavation, dating and analysis. That’s not to say that they can’t help us. On the contrary, they form the basis of much of our work today, but we have to bear their limitations in mind.

The current project has been running for over 10 years and has made some really significant finds which have been re-shaping how archaeologists think about the Iron Age in the north. The site has revealed a number of buildings including a souterrain (underground house) and a smithy. Small finds have been painting a picture of life at the settlement with personal items such as beads being found alongside tools of stone, glass and event items of jet! The people were meat eaters as there is also evidence of animal butchery too.

This years excavations have just begun – but as many of you won’t be able to visit personally, the next best thing is to keep up with events via the project blog using the link above. I will certainly be keeping an eye on this!


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