UK news in brief: digging at the Ness of Brodgar, researching Saxon burials, and analysing a Viking Age boat

A round-up of some of the latest archaeology news from around the UK.

Digging to end at the Ness of Brodgar in 2024

The Ness of Brodgar Trust and the UHI Archaeology Institute have announced that next year will be the final season of digging at the Ness of Brodgar, the 5,000-year-old Neolithic complex in Orkney (see CA 241, 335, and 395).

The site was discovered in 2003 and excavations have been ongoing since then, attracting thousands of visitors each digging season. With so much data collected over these years, the team feels that this is a logical time to stop the excavations, in order to focus on the post-excavation research.

Once the excavations are complete, the site will be covered and returned to a green field until future generations of archaeologists decide to restart the work.

Photo: Hugo Anderson-Whymark

New research into the Lowbury Hill burials

A new project, carried out by a team from the University of Reading, Cranfield University, and Oxfordshire Museum Service, is aiming to learn more about the two enigmatic Anglo-Saxon burials – a man and a woman – found on Lowbury Hill, Oxfordshire, in 1913 and 1914.

Previous investigations had suggested that, based on his grave goods, the man could have been a 7th-century warrior from Cornwall or western Ireland. The woman found next to him, however, was buried without any significant items. This new project will use scientific techniques to tease out more details about the lives of both individuals and, it is hoped, will reveal more about migration and movement in this period.

Clinker boat sampled in Merseyside

In February, a team from the University of Nottingham and the Wirral Archaeology Community Interest Company excavated beneath the car park of the Railway Inn in Meols on the Wirral. They were looking to sample what may be the remains of a Viking Age boat.

The remains were discovered in 1938 by workmen, who were told to cover them again. Before that was done, however, one of them made a sketch depicting a 6-9m vessel of clinker design (that is, with overlapping planks). Recent radar scans revealed the boat was still there, so the modern research team gained permission from the pub to dig. They made dozens of bore holes in the timbers of the vessel to extract small samples for analysis. These should shed light on what type of boat it is, and where it came from.