And finally… Orkney substation dig unearths 4000-year-old carved stones

A team of archaeologists completing exploratory archaeological excavations connected with the development of an electrical substation on behalf of SSEN Transmission in Orkney have discovered carved stones thought to be 4000 years old.

And finally... Orkney substation dig unearths 4000-year-old carved stones

Photo: ORCA Archaeology

In total, ORCA Archaeology unearthed nine carved stones in the remains of a structure revealed at the proposed Finstown substation site, after digging through sixty centimetres of midden deposits.

Some of the objects look remarkably like stylised representations of the human form, whilst others look more like stones set upright into the floor of a Bronze Age building excavated by EASE Archaeology at the Links of Noltland, Westray. These may have been used to tie mooring ropes onto, to help hold the roof on.

Professor Colin Richards, from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, said: “This is a significant discovery in Orkney and probably within North West Europe.

“It is very rare to find representations of people in prehistoric Orkney and when found, they are usually individual or in very small groups.

“If they are figurines, to find nine figures within one structure is very exciting and together with the archaeology found at this site has the potential to add to our understanding of Orcadian society in prehistory.”

The stones were scattered around a fireplace within the remains of a structure containing three ancient coffins and a partial ring of holes packed with broken off upstanding stones.

It is believed they may have been used to tie mooring ropes onto, to help hold the roof on, but the purpose of the building and how it was used by the inhabitants is still a mystery.

Pete Higgins, ORCA Archaeology project manager, added: “The exploratory trenches are now recorded and covered over, while the significant artefacts are now cleaned and stored for future study.

“Discussions will take place on the next steps for the development.”

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