Neolithic legacies: recording, understanding and managing the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarOral presentation


The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site area includes a remarkable concentration of sites dating to the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE. The area encompasses settlements like Barnhouse and Skara Brae and monument complexes such as Maes Howe, The Stones of Stenness, Bookan and the Ness of Brodgar. As with many World Heritage areas, previous work has focussed at the level of individual sites, primarily upstanding monuments. This scale of investigation has important consequences for the management of the area; there are significant gaps in our understanding of what these landscapes were like in the Neolithic, and in how they were worked and reworked over the longer term. This paper presents the results of geophysical and related surveys across an area of c.285 hectares between Skara Brae and Maes Howe. The project has made it possible to talk for the first time about the landscape context of some of the most renowned prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. Our results shed important new light on the character and extent of known prehistoric settlements and ceremonial monuments. They also document the afterlives of these and their relation to the lived landscapes of the historic and more recent past. We can now begin to take this landscape seriously, as an artefact of several millennia of dwelling, working land, attending to wider worlds and to the past itself. Such understanding is a prerequisite for effective and sensitive management, and for the communication of what it is that makes this area so remarkable.
Period5 Sept 2015
Event titleEuropean Association of Archaeologists Conference
Event typeConference
LocationGlasgow, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational