Week 3 on the Brough

another new buildingThe third week of excavation has passed in an instant! Around the edges of our trenches we’ve found yet another Viking Age building, and walls that may well turn out to be parts of pre-Viking ones. At the centre of our excavation the recording of a now fully uncovered Viking Age house has begun – starting with the central hearth and side aisles marked by edge-set stones. In the earth floor of the house we discovered a glass ‘linen smoother’ (a Viking Age iron), more typically known from female pagan graves. Another exciting find is red deer antler, indicating a local population of animals (now extinct in Orkney) from which Deerness may have acquired its (originally Old Norse) name.

In other aspects of the research, Poul Heide continued to survey the surrounding landscape, including measuring the gap between the mainland and the Brough (18 metres) by rope. poul measures the gap

viking age house and tall shipOn Friday and Saturday the tall ships visiting Orkney passed by, reminding us of the site’s strategic position looking out over the sea road that leads into the heart of the islands.




Although we try to give tours to all visitors at any time, our open day on Sunday saw a particularly steady stream of interested people from Deerness, elsewhere in Orkney and the world (the most distant traveller was from Australia). It was impossible to keep count, but perhaps 100 people made the hike onto the Mull Head Nature Reserve during a foggy morning and sunny afternoon. They came with both questions and local wisdom.

James Barrett

15 July 2011