The Ness dig and The RIng of Brodgar - the World Heritage Site

We were very lucky today to have the opportunity to go and visit the Ring of Brodgar, and the Ness dig before it was closed up and covered over for the winter. The Rangers Sandra and Elaine gave us a tour of the 5 thousand year old site and explained what we know about the henge and the area around surrounding it. 
Nobody knows for certain what the Ring was used for...

Arriving at the World Heritage Site and thinking about how important it is.
P6 at the Ring of Brodgar

When we got to the Ring of Brodgar and the Ranger split us into groups so the p7 went inside the Ring of Brodgar and our class went on the outside of the Ring of Brodgar. Our class agreed that it looks bigger from the outside than the inside. Then we went on the inside and we got told a interesting story it was a cold winters evening and there was some giants waking about and there was one giant behind the other giants and he opened his coat a took out his fiddle and started playing his fiddle and they all started dancing for so long that the sun came up and they turned into stone. Tyler and William
The ditch has survived 5 thousand years without filling in or being eroded by farming -
it was cut out of stone by the builders using stone and bone tools.

At the entrance to the ring, you have to cross a causeway to reach the stone ring.

The stones that make up the ring come from different parts of Orkney.
They are placed so that they stand in front of the direction they have come from.
There were about 60 stones, but the ring might not have been finished.

Some of the stones have been damaged.This one was struck by lightning and split into two.
The stones may have been moved on rollers lubricated by seaweed.
The stones have always been standing since they were put up.

Having lunch at the 'comet' stone.

Dr Ingrid Mainland is a bone specialist and she showed us how you can work out what animals were found on the site.
There were hundreds of cattle tibia found at Ness.

The bone table
We went on a class trip to the ring of Brodgar/Ness of Brodgar. There was lots of interesting things in a big tent one of the things we looked was the bone table which had all sorts of bones on it. There were cat bones and sheep bones there was also a few pictures that had lots of different animals movements such as digging, flying and swimming. The bones were found in the dig which meant they probably are as old as the dig which is around about 3200 to 3300 BC. When they find the bones they have to dig around them which takes a while because they are trying to be very careful to not make any dints so they use tiny shovels. Once they think they have found enough bones they try to put them all together and try and see if it is all one body which is very skilled because if you found a pile a bones would you just know how to put them all together make a body.You have to do a lot of research to know all of that stuff and it will take a lot of skill. And also the bones where not white like you thought they would but they are actually a yellow kind of colour and also a bit dirty because they came out of the ground. There was lots more interesting stuff to see like a replica table we got to do some stone carving and painting using flint and stones to make coulers. We got a tour and showed more things they found it was sad to leave but very good fun and I hope we do something like it again by Daisy and Jennifer.

Archaeologists can use a modern skeleton to try to match the bits of bone they find.

We looked at some replica artefacts. Not all materials survive when they are buried underground for a long time. Some artefacts are very delicate and precious when they are found by archaeologists so it is really interesting to have some objects to handle. 

When we were on the trip to the Ness of Brodgar we saw the replicas table. There was a fur coat and there was weapons made of stone and bone. There were necklaces made of bones and string. We shared the weapons and the fur coat. A boy in our class got to try it out first. We made some sparks with a replica of something that looked like a bow and arrow. We also saw a flint knife and one of the men on the site can make them. We saw replicas of pots that they had made back in the stone age.  Sandra the guide showed us the replicas she was very good at explaining what the artefacts were used for. Sandra told us that they were replicas and said that they had found a unidentified object it was like a boulder with ruff edges. There was deer antler on the wooden stick. Sandra told us that they don’t know what all the artefacts were used for. We were very surprised that they were made of plastic and that they were not the real ones. Were learned lots of things about the stone age. We all really enjoyed the trip and we can’t wait to learn more. 

Imagine chipping away at the stone ditch with just an antler!

We tried to make fire with a bow drill.
Stone Art
At the Ness of Brodgar we got the opportunity to do bronzes age stone art. Frist we got a piece of flint and a flat stone, we used the stone and flint to scrap patterns from the bronze age. The most popular was the Brodgar butterfly. Then we used different coloured pigments to decorate our patterns on our stones.
We all had so much fun doing our stone art and hope we can do it again soon.

By Erin and Caitlin 
We decorated some stones with charcoal and pigments.

Some of the stones uncovered in the dig have had decoration and even colour on the surface.

The tour
When we went to the Ness of Brodgar we went on a tour around the site. Dan up on the balcony so we could see the site it was amazing Dan told us lots about the site. All the buildings had numbers so they could tell them apart. It was amazing to see that the walls were still standing very well. Dan told us that people had built houses on top of other houses so the ground was all bumpy they would get a lot of stubbed toes. Dan said that in one of the houses there was five fire places.

Dan gave us a tour of the site. From the viewing platform we could see the whole site clearly and make out a few of the separate structures. One long building had several hearths. Some of the floors and walls were uneven because they had been built on top of older buildings. 

Dan Lee explained how archaeologists have carefully uncovered what we could see and how far the buildings might extend below the surface of the ground we can see. Nobody knew that all of this archaeology was here a few years ago!

We met Neil Oliver who was visiting the site to make a TV programme. 

Dan showed us some of the finds that have been found at the Ness dig.
We can work out what some of them  were used for by the marks and worn areas. Other stones had unusual marks, we can only guess what they might have been used for.

Some of the finds were very special like this flint fossil of a sea urchin which has been polished.
A very unusual and mysterious object!
Next week we are going to continue our project. We will write our own text for this blog post and in the comments below, and are looking forward to seeing Sandra and Dan again back at school.
We will publish more posts on this blog as our project develops - please write your comments below and sign off with your name if you use the 'anonymous' option. Thank you.


  1. How lucky to have a trip right at the start of term, it looks very interesting!
    Holly (Cierras mum)

  2. Looks like you all enjoyed your trip to the Ness of Brodgar and found out some interesting facts. I can't wait to find out about the latest findings when they are shown on TV later this year. Caroline (Erin R's mum)

  3. Dan gave us a tour of the site and he took us up on the scaffolding and let us look down on it. We saw all the structures that they were digging out.Dan told us all about them and how the people would have lived in them.It was really fun. Jake

  4. Hi class 6 it was a very interesting at the ring of Brodgar one stone was struck by lighting. Scott

  5. Dan took us up the scaffold, it wasn't steady because it didn't have amigas on it. Up on the top of the scaffold you could see the whole dig.It was like a bird's eye view. I really liked the trip and i hope we go back to a dig again. Declan

  6. Hi class 6 I hope you had fun at the ring of Brodgar and the ness of Brodgar I certainly did. Anyway I liked seeing all of the big stones they were massive compared to me I found the one that was struck by lightning fascinating. Bye Brogan

  7. On Wednesday we went to the Ness of Brodgar and they showed us some of the bones they found cats bones.They where small then they showed us some other things they found. They found some deer skin then we had lunch. Then they showed us a flint fossil and some flint then we went on the viewing platform.It was beater looking down than looking at It from the ground. then we went back on the bus to school.Cameron

  8. I liked going on the scaffolding to see the birds eye view of the
    Ness of Brodgar. Dan told us that they did not rebuild the walls they dug them up. BY KADYN HERC

  9. The trip to the ring and ness of brodgar was educating and really fun. We learnt history about what people did 5000 years ago it was really interesting. The archaeologists found quite a few tools and pottery. The pottery was amazing i would love to learn more about how they would of made all the patterns. My favourite part was when we learned about what a zoologist does. A zoologist is someone who studies animal bones and the kind of thing a zoologist wants to find out about the animal bones is how they died how old the were things like that. When im older i want to be a zoologist. Aneisha

  10. When we went to the Ness of Brodgar we saw special fossil of a sea anemone which had been polished. The people who found it 5000 years ago must have thought it was special too. When we looked at the bow drill some of the boys managed to get it smouldering. My favourite part of the visit was doing the carvings on the stones. Paige

  11. I cant believe the ditch is 5000 years old. I wonder how they got the stone so round.Its amazing how the ring of Brodgar stones last so many years old.i hope we go again. Robert

  12. Hello class 6 going to the Ring of Brodgar we met Sandra and Elaine we saw some of the standing stones and looked the one that got stuck by lightning.We found out more out them thank to Sandra and Elaine they talked about how they might of got there.Darby

  13. Hi everyone I had a great time at the ring of Brodgar and the Ness of Brodgar. I learnt a lot in both places and I am to sure to go there again. I enjoyed learning all about the animal bones and the tools the used back then. Hope we get to go on another trip like it again. Lauren

  14. I enjoyed going to the ring of Brodgar and the nest of Brodgar. I learned that the ring of Brodgar that they were going to put 60 but they didn't finish. The Ness of Brodgar was amazing and we learned so much about the Ness of Brodgar as well. Ryan

  15. Hi everyone I hope you had fun away on the trip because
    I certainly did I loved looking at all the bones my favourite was the sheep bones compared to the cat bones they were After a while my legs got very tired.Jack

  16. Hello all,
    Thanks for a fun visit to your class today! It was great to talk to you about what I do as an archaeologist, how we find sites, how we excavate, the things we find, what these can tell us, and what we do with them afterwards. You had some really good questions for me, including what made me be an archaeologist and why do we dig things up at all. I look forward to finding out about your project over the next few weeks! Remember, archaeology is all about telling stories from bits of evidence, and that your ideas about the past are important too.
    We have a blog as well where you can find out about other sites that we work on:
    Save me some good questions for my next visit!
    Best wishes,
    Dan Lee
    (Archaeologist, UHI Archaeology Institute, Orkney College)

  17. I really admire this. What a rounded education the kids are getting. Well done!

  18. Robert told me all about what an interesting trip this was and that he would love to go again with me sometime.

  19. Wow you have worked hard preparing models to bring the past to life for us. I enjoyed working with the clay and trying to put the broken pot back together. Now I'm going to go and hear a story. Thanks for inviting us to your open afternoon. Lenore William's mum