The UHI Archaeology Institute’s Professor Ingrid Mainland will be joined by Dr Colleen Batey next week for a talk on feasting in Norse Orkney.
Feasting with the Earls at the Bu is the 2022 Orkney International Science Festival‘s Dr Raymond Lamb Memorial Lecture and takes place at the Orkney Theatre, Kirkwall, on Thursday, September 2, at 5.15pm.
Orkney Earls in Norse times had wealth and power, and the Orkneyinga saga tells of various gatherings for feasting and drinking, with Orphir mentioned several times. Excavations at the Bu, in Orphir, have provided insights into the possible location of an earl’s hall.
A clue comes from a horizontal mill, fallen into disuse and filled with remains of cooked food: choice cuts of meat suggest a place of feasting nearby.
Professor Mainland has studied over 70,000 fragments of animal bone from the site and they suggest a site that saw consumption of cattle and sheep on a massive scale. Selective dumps of cattle and pig bones were also indicative of feasting on choice cuts of meat.
The volume and type of bone examined suggests that Orphir was a centre of consumption rather than a centre of production.
Tickets for the event can be booked at the Science Festival website.