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5,000 year old Westray wife ends tour of Scotland at Orkney Museum

11 October 2010

Visitors and locals to Orkney will have a final chance to see Scotland’s earliest human face, the Orkney Venus, on its current tour of Scotland, when it takes residence at the Orkney Museum from Saturday (16th October).

The figurine, known locally as the ‘Westray Wife’ will be on display in the museum’s Baikie Library until 13th November.

The Venus has spent the summer touring venues around Scotland, and has been seen by over 100,000 people. It spent the summer on its island home of Westray, and delighted over 3,000 visitors to the centre. This was more than double those of the previous season, and had a huge impact on the local business community.

Sheila Garson, Curator of Social History at the Orkney Museum said;

“The ‘Westray Wife’ has proved a huge hit wherever she has been on display, so we are hoping as many people as possible will take the chance to come and see her whilst she is at the museum.

“The exhibition will also cover the dig taking place at Westray and the race against time to explore and record this fascinating site, and we look forward to welcoming the first visitors through our doors this Saturday.”

The figurine was found in Westray last September by archaeologists taking part in a Historic Scotland excavation at the Links of Noltland. This July a second figurine was found on the site, this time headless and made from fired clay, but of a similar size, and with distinct markings, prompting further speculation about the purpose and significance of these tiny figures.

Richard Strachan, Senior Archaeologist with Historic Scotland said;

“We have had another extremely successful season working on Westray. The 2010 finds have included some spectacular decorated pottery, as well as a beautiful polished stone bead, however the highlight was undoubtedly the discovery of the second Neolithic figurine.

“The site is one of the richest in Europe, in terms of the preservation of so many artefacts from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, and the discovery of the first figurine generated huge worldwide interest.

“We hope that visitors will enjoy finding out about the rich heritage of the site, whilst having the opportunity to come face to face with Scotland’s earliest depiction of a human face.”

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.

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858