A Fieldwork Photo-Diary from the Links of Noltland and Beyond…

Back at my desk again after a fantastic week up in Orkney with Aaron and Kieran, this time doing some fieldwork over at Links of Noltland on Westray, work which has been kindly grant supported by Historic Scotland. I won’t be writing too much about this project just yet as we’re still very much in the process of working out what stories we want to tell about the site and how to go about that. Nevertheless, I thought it would be nice to share a few pictures from the fieldwork with you all as it’s such a fascinating site to work on!

So, this was my week in Orkney – a photo diary if you will!

Looking back over the site as the wind starts to get up!

On the beach just down from the site at the Links of Noltland.

First day at Noltland, walking the site.

First day at links of Noltland, walking the site report in hand.

Links of Noltland is currently still under a program of excavation, and turning up some hugely exciting structures and finds each year. Some of the most noteworthy have been the cow skulls placed in the foundations of one of the Neolithic buildings, and the figurines placed in the backfilled midden closing deposits of some of these structures.

Some of my snaps from a visit to Links of Noltland during the excavations back in 2009.

Some of my snaps from a visit to Links of Noltland during the excavations back in 2009.

Neolithic excavations undercover at Links of Noltland.

Neolithic excavations undercover at Links of Noltland.

Bronze Age excavations undercover at Links of Noltland.

Bronze Age excavations undercover at Links of Noltland.

Burnt stone

Burnt stone feature.

Kieran gets the kite up on the first day before the 60 mph gusts kick in!

Kieran gets the kite up on the first day before the 60 mph gusts kick in!

 

Some rough doodles on-site. A plan on the left, and a sketch done to encourage me to engage with the site a bit more closely.

Some rough doodles on-site. A plan on the left, and a landscape sketch done to encourage myself to engage with the site a bit more closely in the field.

Looking over towards the late Neolithic Grobust House.

Looking over towards the late Neolithic Grobust House.

Day 3: Windy. Pretty darned windy.

Day 3: Windy. Pretty darned windy.

Kieran battles the elements at the nearby broch.

Kieran battles the elements at the nearby broch.

Aaron and Kieran brace for bad weather as we walk through the storyboard on the last day onsite.

Aaron and Kieran brace for bad weather as we walk through the storyboard on the last day onsite.

Visualising this site is going to be a challenge and I’m particularly interested in using this as a partial case study in my thesis because, well, it’s really quite different to the projects I’ve worked on so far for my PhD! The open excavations at Links of Noltland have been laser scanned, so it’s relevant to my research in the sense of continuity between this and my previous case studies – but obviously the site is an excavation, not an upstanding structure in the same way as Skara Brae or St Kilda. We’re also interested in making the current excavations very much a part of the narrative here, as they’re still ongoing and are such a huge part of the story. It’s also important, as with any site, to anchor any interpretation and consequent visualisation in the present, so featuring the excavations really makes sense…

Exploring the wider landscape - Cliffs on the South-East side of Westray.

Exploring the wider landscape (and looking for puffins!) – Cliffs on the South-East side of Westray.

At least when the weather gets bad there's always the Westray Heritage Centre and the Westray Wife themed shortbread!!

At least when the weather gets bad there’s always the Westray Heritage Centre and the Westray Wife themed shortbread!!

All set for a week of fieldwork in Orkney - we have all the essentials!

All set for a week of fieldwork on Westray – we had all the essentials!

Then it was back to mainland Orkney to set up the Skara Brae exhibition and give a talk at the college in Kirkwall…

Everything was going smoothly until we landed ourselves in one of those situations like the fox, chicken and grain crossing the river riddle and could only fit two people in the car with display boards we had to pick up from the library and archive in Kirkwall! Don’t ask how, but this then resulted in Aaron and I somehow loosing Kieran (a problem compounded by lack of phone signal) who was wandering about somewhere in the world heritage site. I was then dropped off at the college while Aaron went out in search of Kieran – luckily he found him somewhere between the Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe and they swaggered into the lecture theatre like total rockstars only about 5 minutes later than we were due to talk so thankfully I didn’t have to entertain the audience with anecdotal fieldwork stories for any longer than necessary!  The talk went down well and we got some interesting discussion going at the end, fuelled by some of Momma Watterson’s homemade cakes which we’d acquired on our stopover with my folks in Inverness on the drive up north!

The Skara Brae exhibition set up and running back on mainland Orkney!

The Skara Brae exhibition set up and running back on mainland Orkney!

The next day we made our way back home, though by the time we arrived in Scrabster the weather was just too good to pass up so we spent the day visiting various sites in Caithness including the archaeology trail at the Loch of Yarrow. As we passed Helmsdale that evening we swung by the Timespan heritage centre to hear my friend John McCaffery talk about the Caen township project and have a play with the virtual township on the Kinect. We didn’t get on the road again until about 9.30 pm and made it about 20 minutes up the road before Kieran spotted a broch so Aaron swiftly pulled over and we went over to explore! We didn’t make it back to Inverness til just after midnight…totally worth it!

Visiting a few sites in Caithness on our drive home...

Visiting a few sites in Caithness on our drive home…I was standing in an open chambered cairn not lying on the ground to take this photo!

Walking the moorland south of the Loch of Yarrows, full of long cairns, hut circles, chmbered cairns, brochs and a fort!

Walking the moorland south of the Loch of Yarrows, full of long cairns, hut circles, chambered cairns, brochs and a fort!

A tight squeeze!

A tight squeeze!

Broch and roll at the Loch of Yarrows.

Broch and roll at the Loch of Yarrows.

Chambered cairn in Caithness near the Hill o' Many Stanes.

Chambered cairn in Caithness near the Hill o’ Many Stanes.

Carn Liath Broch on the drive home.

Carn Liath broch on the drive home at about 10 pm! Broch-on!

Anyway, lots to get done – back to work!

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4 comments

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  2. Had not heard of this place before, but it seems to be similar to Skara Brae, which I just visited about 1-1/2 weeks ago. Super cool – and I don’t mean the weather. 🙂

    1. Yes there are a lot of similarities, not least in terms of its comparable significance! I’ve just written a new post about our second field trip to Noltland here – https://digitaldirtvirtualpasts.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/return-to-the-links-of-noltland-fieldwork-diary-vol-ii/ if you fancy a read 🙂

  3. […] as musician and sound-man extraordinare John Was . This was our second trip up North this summer (you can read about our first trip in an earlier post) as part of continuing work to produce interpretive content for the site on behalf of Historic […]

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