The Ness of Brodgar is a great name. I spent many holidays as a child in South Devon in a small village called Shaldon, which has a Ness, a large cliff outcrop in Devon red sandstone. A horde of marauding Vikings came in 1001 AD and set fire to the village and looted it before sailing off again. Ness is the Old Norse word for nose. The Nose of Brodgar doesn’t have the same ring to it though.
Today there’s an open day before the excavation is shut up for the winter, yes, winter. There’s a shop, demonstrations, exhibitions, presentations and even snacks, but no toilets. The 5,000 year old stone buildings are utterly compelling. One is 25m long with 4m thick walls and the site was used for 1,000 years. We knew nothing about it until 2002 when those enthusiastic geophysicists revealed a huge complex of archaeological remains. There is Neolithic art scratched and pecked into stone, painted stonework, polished stone maceheads and axes and decorated pottery. It’s stunning. Here’s a snatched panorama of the site: