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Digging up the past at Ness of Brodgar

16 July 2012

Teenagers are being offered a chance for an unrivalled experience of hands-on archaeology at one of Scotland’s richest ancient sites, Ness of Brodgar in Orkney.

Historic Scotland has teamed up with the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) to present “Digging up the Past”, a series of one-day excavations beginning on July 24th in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

The project is aimed at 12-to-16-year-olds, and is run by Historic Scotland’s Ranger Service with archaeologist Helen Woodford-Dean. Participants will be able to learn about archaeology, and try excavation techniques on one of the world’s most fascinating digs.

Research at Ness of Brodgar has been underway since 2003, attracting experts from ORCA, Orkney College UHI, and universities at Aberdeen, Cardiff, Williamette (Oregon),and Glasgow, plus City University New York, as well as volunteers from around the world.

Excavation director, Nick Card of ORCA explained: “We ran a pilot scheme two years ago to give children a chance to see what a dig was like, and attracted an amazing amount of interest.

“The youngsters are given a chance to dig on a new part of the site, where they are almost guaranteed a find, such as a piece of pottery, or flint, which could be 5,000 years old.

“Their reactions are a joy to see, which is encouraging when you consider that these children may be the next generation of archaeologists – and there is enough archaeology at Ness of Brodgar to keep us going for several generations.”

The youngsters are closely supervised and supported throughout the digs, which run on Tuesdays between July 24th and August 14th. A limited number of places are available, and booking is essential.

Commented Orkney Ranger Elaine Clarke: “This is a very popular event, and the children find it a thrilling experience. Visitors also appreciate the chance to see a live dig underway.”

For more information, contact Historic Scotland Orkney Rangers, on 01856 841732.

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

                                                  Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

David Gray
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805