April 17th, 2014

Lovely exposed midden at Dingieshowe. It’s all exposed because of the coastal erosion at the site. 

April 16th, 2014

Massive power cut across the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. 

Kirkwall now has power and I’m assuming other areas of Orkney have also had their power returned as well as other affected areas. 

It was interesting to see the whole of Kirkwall without power, very dark with the heavy clouds here. It also seems to have affected mobile phone signals as well but they seem to have gotten back to normal levels. The power came back on rather fast (about an hour and a half) considering the area affected. 

The open day went very well, rather quiet but gave me a good chance to have a look through some of the material from the Cairns that was on display. 

Shown are some of the 12 (red deer) antler long handled Iron Age combs that were found grouped together inside a pot in the doorway of one of the structures. 


The mound itself is named Dingieshowe and was used as a meeting place for Vikings. 

The mound was excavated by J Farrer and G Petrie who reported that it had a wall thickness of 12ft and an internal diameter of 33ft, the mound is about 25ft high. It is thought to be an Iron Age broch structure. The report of Farrer and Petrie states that a number of stone implements and several fragments of pottery were found. Petrie also records that ‘on digging underneath the foundations…it was found that the whole of that part of the sandy knoll on which it was built had been subjected to the action of a strong fire and considerable quantities of burnt bones of large animals were found’. 

In typical antiquarian style they excavated from the top down leaving a dent in the top of the mound, this is a common sight across Orkney. It is also likely they put in a small trench in the bottom of the hill to find the burnt layer under the foundations (25ft is pretty deep to dig top down).  

April 15th, 2014
Scott Timpany is a relatively new member of the department (just over a year maybe?) and has some really interesting research interests in Orkney. It looks to be an exciting lecture. 

Scott Timpany is a relatively new member of the department (just over a year maybe?) and has some really interesting research interests in Orkney. It looks to be an exciting lecture. 

Archaeology Department Open Day.

It’s the Orkney College UHI open day tomorrow and the Archaeology Department will be open from 11am - 4pm if anyone wants to pop by and see what’s on offer. The Archaeology Society will be there with a small table showing off what we’ve been up to and what we hope to do in the future. I think there’ll be various lecturers on hand throughout the day as well. 

I’ll be there 11am - 3pm to help with the society stuff if anyone Orkney based would like to say hello. 

The lovely Dingieshowe beach, I think the last photo is looking towards Corn Holm but it could be Copinsay

April 14th, 2014

East Mainland!

Just gotten back from a lovely trip out the the east Mainland. We visited Dingieshowe to look at the broch (grass covered mound) and the coastal erosion slightly up the coast. We then headed out to Deerness to Newark to look at the medieval chapel remains and the coast erosion of the attached cemetery. There were human remains exposed along parts of the section so it’s highly unlikely I will upload them but I will provide a description when uploading other photos. 

It was a really fun trip, with extremely good weather and despite a mishap with the minibus it was great. Hopefully I will have the chance to go on more trips. 

April 10th, 2014

Tourism and archaeology in Orkney: the Ness effect

by Julie Gibson (Orkney county archaeologist). 

A very interesting article on the impact of tourism on Orkney as well as the rise of interest in Orkney due to recent documentaries about the Ness of Brodgar.

More than half of visitors to Orkney make it their destination based on their interest in our archaeological sites. Furthermore, independent analysis of the economic impact of undertaking archaeology in our very rural community has confirmed what has been suspected for a long while: archaeological tourism is a significant point of growth. The impact of the excavation at the Ness of Brodgar has had a positive, measurable, impact upon the tourism industry here”. 

Unfortunately this article doesn’t seem to be available online yet but if you have a hard copy of ‘The Archaeologist’, Spring 2014, published by the IfA (I will add a link once I find one). 

March 29th, 2014

TV Series Is Criticized in Handling of Deceased



Archaeologists who specialize in excavating battlefields are condemning a new television series from National Geographic, saying the program’s approach to digging up the remains of World War II soldiers is unprofessional and borders on the ghoulish.

National Geographic Channel International is defending the four-part series, “Nazi War Diggers,” scheduled to begin in Britain in May. (It has not been scheduled for the United States.) The channel says the work was supervised by licensed authorities in Latvia and Poland, that it was conducted in full view of archaeologists, and that human remains will be repatriated.

But in a statement emailed to its critics on Friday, National Geographic conceded that a video snippet used to publicize the show “did not provide important context about our team’s methodology.” Read more.

March 28th, 2014
March 27th, 2014



I am sure most of you have seen this horrendous video-


The show “Nazi War Diggers” and other “Digger” shows promote general treasure hunting and metal detector techniques in the finding and removal of archaeological items.

In this one episode, the stars of “Nazi War Diggers” excavate a grave. Hacking away at the dirt right around the bones with a pick axe and vigorously shaking the bones loose from the dirt for removal was gut wrenching to watch. No context recorded.. nothing! They have no bioarchaeological or forensic training and completely prove their ignorance through their behavior.

Please sign the petition linked below to show your opposition to this show and others like it. 

"Archaeological sites are fragile, non-renewable resources that take decades, centuries and sometimes millennia to form. Yet a careless digger with a shovel can damage or destroy them in minutes. On federal and state lands such vandalism of our national heritage is on the increase, in part because of programs like The National Geographic Channel’s Diggers, The Travel Channel’s Dig Wars and Spike TV’s American Diggers. These three programs on cable glorify destructive relic collecting and promote looting of our future. For example: a recent episode of “Dig Wars’” followed the exploit of gleeful metal detector enthusiasts as they grabbed artifacts from a private portion of Fort Phantom Hill in Taylor County, Texas. There was no attempt at proper site recording or documentation. All they were after was the loot."



I came across this video yesterday but it seems to have been removed since then. There’s an incomplete recording of the video available here, it misses some of the men crying over the remains as well as further speculation about the remains. It’s a terrible way to represent archaeology and archaeologist to the public. Their archaeological practices are absolutely disgusting as well as their unprofessionalism . I haven’t gotten so angry about something in a while but this has really affected me. I have signed the petition. 

(via suzythered)

March 26th, 2014
Kirkwall Harbour, Orkney. 

Kirkwall Harbour, Orkney.