The Cairns broch from above. (Bobby Friel)
Iron Age The Cairns

New radiocarbon date for Cairns shell pit

A new radiocarbon date for a shell-filled pit at The Cairns Iron Age site in South Ronaldsay shows that it was in use in the fifth or sixth century AD.

The pit appears to have been used to cook shellfish and after consumption, their shells, all 18,637 of them, were put back in it.

Iron Age The Cairns

Cairns broch fragment may be a sliver of Roman glassware

A tiny sliver found during soil-sample processing has brought the number of ancient glass fragments from the interior of The Cairns broch to nine.

However, unlike most of the eleven examples of glass recovered across the South Ronaldsay site, this dark-green shard does not appear to be a bead fragment but may instead have come from Roman glassware.

Iron Age The Cairns

How did Iron Age society cope with crisis?

As a society we are aided in our understanding of the Covid-19 emergency and the way we can address the social, economic and political effects through our use of technology…..but what of society in the Iron Age? How did they cope with emergencies that affected their way of life? Did they change their way of doing things permanently?

Iron Age Research The Cairns Zooarchaeology

Ancient DNA study at The Cairns lands massive whale tale

Dr Antonia Thomas is a lecturer in archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute based in Orkney, Scotland. Antonia’s work focuses on art and archaeology in its broadest sense – from the interpretation of prehistoric art, to the intersections between contemporary art practice and the archaeological imagination.

Iron Age Swartigill Dig Diary

Swartigill dig – week three

The community archaeology excavation at the Burn of Swartigill is now nearing completion for this season.

The dig is organised by the Yarrows Heritage Trust, in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and ORCA Archaeology. Rick Barton, project officer with ORCA, talks us through the finds of the week…