Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney

From News.scotsman.com Digging up the past at ancient stone circle Published Date: 02 July 2008 By John Ross WORK will start next week to unearth the secrets of one of Europe's most important prehistoric sites. The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, the third-largest stone circle in the British Isles and thought to date back to 3000-2000BC, is regarded by archaeologists as an outstanding example of Neolithic settlement and has become a popular tourist attraction in the islands. It is believed it was part of a massive ritual complex but little is known about the monument, including its exact age or purpose. It is hoped part of the mystery will be explained during a month-long programme of investigations by a 15-strong team of archaeologists and scientists from Orkney College, Stirling and Manchester universities and the Scottish Universities Environment Reactor Centre. The project will involve the re-excavation and extension of trenches dug in 1973. Geophysical surveys will be undertaken to investigate the location of standing stones and other features within the henge monument. Dr Jane Downes, of Orkney College's archaeology department, one of the project directors, said: "Because so little is known about the Ring of Brodgar, a series of assumptions have taken the place of archaeological data. The interpretation of what is arguably the most spectacular stone circle in Scotland is therefore incomplete and unclear. "The advanced techniques now at our disposal mean that this time our investigations should establish when the Ring of Brodgar was built and help us learn a great deal more about it."

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