A day at Links of Noltland, Orkney, Scotland

Links of Noltland is a large prehistoric site located on the north coast of the small island of Westray in Orkney. Excavations have been underway here for 10 years, carried out on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland (the lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment). The site comprises Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, including houses, middens, a cemetery and field systems. The site is complex but also very rich in finds. Pottery and stone and bone tools are very common, as is animal bone and shell.

The work is taking place because the site is under threat from erosion and the aim is to recover as much information as possible via excavation before it is too late and to present the results through publication. I thought that as part of the Day of Archaeology we would show the range of activities which were carried out over one day on site this year. There is also a facebook page for anyone who would like to follow progress on site over the next few weeks.

Anna and Roland carry out survey work in the area of the Bronze Age field system

Anna and Roland carry out survey work in the area of the Bronze Age field system

Criostoir is excavating a thick layer of midden which overlies earlier buildings

Criostoir is excavating a thick layer of midden which overlies earlier buildings

Dan and Kevin are investigating the Bronze Age Sauna

Dan and Kevin are investigating the Bronze Age Sauna

Dawn is drawing a profile over a cell in the thickness of the wall of one of the Neolithic houses

Dawn is drawing a profile over a cell in the thickness of the wall of one of the Neolithic houses

Keith is excavating a late wall inserted into a Neolithic house, to reveal the earlier house plan, we often recover nice artefacts from these types of locations

Keith is excavating a late wall inserted into a Neolithic house, to reveal the earlier house plan, we often recover nice artefacts from these types of locations and the walls themselves contain large numbers of decorated stones.

Lesley is excavating floor material inside a Neolithic house. The bags contain soil samples which will be processed to recover charred plant material -seeds, wood charcoal etc.

Lesley is excavating floor material inside a Neolithic house. The bags contain soil samples which will be processed to recover charred plant material -seeds, wood charcoal etc.

All of the finds are located in three dimensions using survey equipment.

All of the finds are located in three dimensions using survey equipment.

Here is Maeve's find, a piece of worked/utilised cattle tibia from inside a Neolithic wall

Here is Maeve’s find, a piece of worked/utilised cattle tibia from inside a Neolithic wall

And finally here is a pic of me supervising

And finally here is a pic of me supervising