Yesterday, July 31, was the first Ness of Brodgar Open Day of 2016. There were displays in two locations that helped to tell the story of this amazing site.
The weather added something to the drama of the location by bringing in cloud at zero feet and horizontal rain for a few hours in the afternoon, but over 1000 people still braved the unique Orkney climate to sample a little of the Ness atmosphere.
And they came from all over the world. I talked to an engineer from Canada, a teacher from Wiltshire, a retired couple from Austria and a man who could see the Ness from his kitchen window.
There were children of all ages engaged in activities from making seashell necklaces and pasta art to rope and willow working. There was even a chance to create a monster, create some neolithic art or rebuild Structure Ten in Duplo. And, of course, view the research work being undertaken by the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute.
In many respects the Open Day created an experience that gave everyone who visited, a few hours to soak up the atmosphere that makes the Ness a place that visitors return to day after day and year after year.
Talking to one visitor, he suggested that the Ness of Brodgar had a special atmosphere, even on a dull day. It attracted him to the place year after year. He suggested that the place, although a place of work, was also a place in which people feel something special. You only have to visit once to see for yourself.
You can’t help but talk to people who you have never seen before and will probably never see again. The volunteers themselves obviously possess a camaraderie that is hard to explain. Visitors stand around and for a moment in a busy world start asking questions about the people who built these structures. Some visitors set up easels and paint while others start playing instruments. All take photographs, but not in a way that most people do on holiday, but in a studied way as if recording something special.
There is another Open Day on August 21.