Ness of Brodgar project awarded two titles at 2024 Current Archaeology Awards

For the second time in its history, the Ness of Brodgar excavation has been named Research Project of the Year at the Current Archaeology Awards.

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Aerial view of the monumental Neolithic structures in Trench P, one of the three main areas of excavation at the Stenness site. Photo by Tom O’Brien

For the second time in its history, the Ness of Brodgar excavation has been named Research Project of the Year at the Current Archaeology Awards.

At the 2024 awards ceremony in London on Saturday, project director Nick Card was also awarded the title Archaeologist of the Year.

Both awards were collected on behalf of the Ness by Time Team stalwart and geophysicist John Gater.

John was responsible for the initial phase of the geophysical surveys which detected the presence of the large Neolithic complex on the Ness of Brodgar – a discovery he hailed “the main highlight of his career” in 2023.

Ness of Brodgar director Nick Card at work

Ness of Brodgar director Nick Card at work in the trenches. Photo by Jim Richardson

Commenting on the project’s success, Nick Card said: “We were up against extremely fine archaeologists and projects, so are both delighted and humbled by this recognition.

“To receive two awards is a great accolade to all the hard work that the Ness team has put into the project over the past 20 years and a fitting celebration to mark the end of two decades of excavation. Both, I feel, are for the whole team and thank you to everyone who voted and deemed us worthy of these awards.”

2024 marks a major milestone in the history of the multi-award-winning project, which is managed by the Ness of Brodgar Trust in partnership with UHI Archaeology Institute.

The final season of fieldwork will conclude in August, after which the archaeology will be covered over to preserve it for future generations. But although digging is ending, the project continues and will move into the vital post-excavation research and full publication phase.

Discovered in 2003, the Orkney archaeological site has gone on to attract thousands of visitors each summer.

The excavation has uncovered a complex of monumental Neolithic buildings, dating from around 3300BC to 2400BC, flanked by a pair of massive stone walls.

The size, quality, and architecture of the structures, together with evidence for tiled roofs, coloured walls, decorated stone and stunning artefacts have seen the Ness hit headlines across the world regularly over the past two decades.

The site is open to the public, on weekdays, between Wednesday, June 26 and Friday, August 16, 2024. For full details, see the Ness of Brodgar website.

Staying in Orkney, the excavations at the Knowe of Swandro, in Rousay, were also recognised at the awards, named Rescue Project of the Year 2024.

Between them, the two Orkney projects took three of the four Current Archaeology awards.

The Swandro dig is run by the Swandro-Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust and the University of Bradford.

The site, with activity running from the Iron Age to the Norse period, is being destroyed by coastal erosion so, in 2010, work began to excavate and record as much of it as possible before the archaeology is lost.