Orkney – 5,000-Year-Old Temple Complex

More or less 5 months ago I read on a National Geographic magazine, about the Orkney excavation side and the archaeological works held there. It’s a really interesting subject that I would like to share with you. Our ancestors never cease to surprise me.

The excavation of the prehistoric temple complex on the Scottish island of Orkney, has revealed that the Neolithic inhabitants of that same island were far more advanced than initially realised. It was also found a large collection of ancient artifacts that reflect a complex and culturally rich society, archaeologists also discovered that the three major monumental structures on the island  (the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stennes, and the Maes Howe tomb) were linked in a way, connected for the same purpose.

The archaeological site, known as the Ness of Brodgar, covers an area of over six acres and consists of the remains of housing, remnants of slate roofs, paved walkways, coloured facades, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic “cathedra” or “palace”, inhabited from at least 3,500 BC to the close of the Neolithic period more than a millennium and a half later.

The workmanship of these people was impeccable. The imposing walls they built would have done credit to the Roman centurions who, some 30 centuries later, would erect Hadrian’s Wall in another part of Britain. Cloistered within those walls were dozens of buildings, among them one of the largest roofed structures built in prehistoric northern Europe. It was more than eighty feet long and sixty feet wide, with walls of thirteen feet thick.

The archaeological excavation, which has so far only unearthed around 10% of the original site, has yielded thousands of incredible artifacts including a few ceremonial mace heads, polished stone axes, flint knives, a human figurine, miniature thumb pots, beautifully crafted stone spatulas, highly-refined coloured pottery, and more than six hundred and fifty (650) pieces of Neolithic art. It is by far the largest collection ever found in Britain.

The three monumental sites mentioned before, Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness and the Maes Howe tomb, are all located within several miles of the Ness, used to be seen as isolated monuments with separate histories but as the excavations at the Ness have progressed, archaeologists have come to believe that the megalithic sites in the surrounding region were all connected in some way with the Ness of Brodgar, although its purpose remains unknown. What the Ness is telling us is that this was a much more integrated landscape than anyone ever suspected. The people who built all those monuments were a far more complex and capable society than has usually been portrayed.

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