Art and Architecture in Neolithic Orkney: Process, Temporality and Context

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The Neolithic sites of Orkney include an impressive number of stone-built tombs, ceremonial monuments and – uniquely for northern Europe – contemporary dwellings. Many of these buildings survive in a remarkable state of preservation, allowing an understanding of the relationship between architectural space and the process of construction that is rarely achievable. Until recently, however, relatively little has been known about the decoration of these sites.

This book addresses that gap to offer a groundbreaking analysis of Neolithic art and architecture in Orkney. Focussing upon the incredible collection of hundreds of decorated stones being revealed by the current excavations at the Ness of Brodgar, it details the results of the author’s original fieldwork both there and at the contemporary sites of Maeshowe and Skara Brae, all within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

It provides the first major discussion of Orkney’s Neolithic carvings, and uses these as a springboard to challenge many of the traditional assumptions relating to Neolithic art and architecture. By foregrounding the architectural context of mark-making, this book explores how both buildings and carvings emerge though the embodied social practice of working stone, and how this relates to the wider context of life in Neolithic Orkney.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages277
ISBN (Electronic)978-178491434-9
ISBN (Print)978-178491433-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Publication series

NameUniversity of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute Research Series


  • Neolithic Art
  • orkney
  • Ness of Brodgar
  • Skara Brae
  • Maeshowe
  • 15ref2021


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