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Orkney Venus returns to Westray for the summer

14 May 2010

School children from Pierowell School in Orkney are to meet Scotland’s oldest face - the 5,000 year old Orkney Venus, at Westray Heritage Centre today, Friday 14th May, when she returns home for the summer.

The children will be the first visitors to the exhibition which opens to the public this weekend.

Orkney Venus Pictured -  Richard Welander, Head of Collections at Historic Scotland prepares to take the Orkney Venus to Westray

The visit is part of the official opening of the exhibition, which sees the figurine return to Westray for the summer after a tour of sites across Scotland. During the day, the children from Pierowall School will be joined by residents of the local care home and there will also be an open evening for the community at night.

The 5,000 year old figurine- known locally as the Westray Wife, attracted international interest when it was discovered last summer by archaeologists working on the Historic Scotland excavation at the Links of Noltland, on Westray. The figurine is the only known Neolithic carving of a human form to have been found in Scotland.

The exhibition will open this Saturday 15th May and will remain on Westray until the autumn  when it will complete its tour at the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall until October.

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs said: “The Orkney Venus is a find of exceptional rarity and significance and has helped to emphasise the national and international importance of this site currently at threat from wind erosion.  The touring exhibition has been a great success, allowing many people to see it up close, and it is wonderful that the artefact has been embraced by the pupils and local community in Westray, dubbing it their own ‘Westray wife’.  The team from EASE Archaeology are busy preparing for this season’s excavations where they will concentrate on the Neolithic farmhouse and associated buildings and field system - including the ‘cow-skull’ building revealed late last year.”

For those unable to make it to Westray, they can follow the progress of the excavations on the dig blog at www.westrayheritage.co.uk


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 more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk


For further information


Jennifer Johnston Watt
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956 866
jennifer.johnstonwatt@scotland.gsi.gov.uk