Orkney archaeologists hail ‘year of the axe’

The gneiss axe found at the Ness of Brodgar site this summer. PIC: Contributed.
The gneiss axe found at the Ness of Brodgar site this summer. PIC: Contributed.
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Archaeologists in Orkney have hailed 2018 as “year of the axe” given the haul of neolithic tools discovered at the 5,000-year-old Ness of Brodgar site.

Eight axes were found at the Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site this summer with the items now to go on show for the first time at Stromness Museum.

Norna Sinclair, exhibition assistant at Stromness Museum, said: “It is being called ‘year of the axe’ as so many lovely axes have been found at Ness of Brodgar.”

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Ms Sinclair said one of the “absolute treasures” amongst the haul was a banded axe made from gneiss, the hard rock that is often formed out of granite.

“What is interesting about this axe is that is appears to be dual use. It is a banded and beautifully crafted axe but it has also been used as an anvil. It has had a good life. It has been well used,” Ms Sinclair added.

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The Ness of Brodgar excavation site lies between the henge monuments of the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

Archaeological excavations at the site, which sits on the south-eastern end of the Ness peninsula, earlier revealed a large complex of “monumental” Neolithic buildings along with artwork, pottery, bones and stone tools.

From around 3,100BC, the Ness was dominated by huge free-standing buildings enclosed by a massive stone wall.

Archaeologists believe the settlement served a special function given the size, quality and architecture of the structures.

It is believed that tiled roofs, coloured walls and hundreds of examples of decorated stone were used to define the site.

The archaeological surveys of the site are organised by Ness of Brodgar Trust.

-The axes found at Ness of Brodgar will go on show at From the Trowel’s Edge, the new winter exhibition at Stromness Museum.