Next week, commencing July 8, 2019, a team from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute will return to dig at the fascinating Skaill Farmstead site on the Orkney island of Rousay.
The team of UHI students, Rousay residents and volunteers will once again be led by Dr Ingrid Mainland, Dr Jen Harland, Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon and Dan Lee from the UHI Archaeology Institute. They will together continue the project to investigate this farm and settlement mound which may have been inhabited for over 1,000 years.
The dig is part of the Landscapes of Change – Archaeologies of the Rousay Clearances and Westness Estate project, which is now in its firth season.
The aim of the project is to explore the farmstead at Skaill from the Norse period to its abandonment in the 19th century. The present farm at Skaill dates to the 18-19th centuries and was part of the Rousay clearances during the mid-19th century; however the name Skaill suggests the site was home to a Norse hall or drinking hall, and was a high status site.
Westness is mentioned in Orkneyinga saga as the home of Sigurd, a powerful chieftain, so it is likely that a Norse settlement is located somewhere at Skaill. Earlier structures have been found below the present farm last year, and this season we plan to explore more of the Norse and possible Viking phases of the site.
The site is open to the public from 8th July to 26th July and everyone is welcome to visit. Tours are available and archaeologists will be on site most weekdays. Open Day is on Sunday 21st July 2019.
The dig is located on the island of Rousay near the Midhowe Broch. Park in the lay-by for the broch and walk down the hill until you reach the sea. Turn left and follow the coast until you reach us at Skaill Farmstead! You will need to take the ferry from Orkney Mainland. Check out the ferry timetable before you go.