Off the northernmost tip of Scotland lie the Orkney Islands, where it is said that if you scratch the surface they bleed archaeology. This is nowhere truer than in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site that is renowned for some of the most iconic prehistoric monuments of Atlantic Europe: the great stone circles of the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness; Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in northern Europe; and the exceptionally well preserved 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae. In particular, the stunning discovery of a Neolithic complex at the Ness of Brodgar that was enclosed within a large walled precinct is changing our perceptions. The magnificence of the Ness structures with their refinement, scale, and symmetry, decorated with color and artwork, bears comparison with the great temples of Malta. In his lecture, Secrets of the Ness of Brodgar: a Stone-Age Complex in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, Nick Card will explore how recent archaeological research at this remarkable site is radically changing our views of the period, providing a sharp contrast to the Stonehenge-centric view of the Neolithic, and revealing a 5,000 year old complex, socially stratified, and dynamic society.
The Ness excavations were recognized by the American Institute of Archaeology as one of the great discoveries in 2009; named the 2011 Current Archeology Research Project of the Year; winner of the international Andante Travel Archaeology Award in 2012; and featured in a cover article in National Geographic in 2014. The excavations are directed by Nick Card who has lived and worked on Orkney off the north tip of Scotland for more than 25 years. He is Senior Projects Manager of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, University of Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute (which he helped to establish). He is also a Member of Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site Research Committee, an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Chair of the Ness of Brodgar Trust, and Vice-president of the American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar.