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Renowned scholar to see sites and open Ness exhibition on Orkney visit

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Professor Dame Mary Beard is in Orkney next month where she will open the Ness of Brodgar exhibition and be shown around some of the sites by UHI Archaeology Institute staff.

Professor Dame Mary Bear - bound for Orkney next month.
Professor Dame Mary Bear – bound for Orkney next month.

This summer’s Ness of Brodgar exhibition at the Orkney Museum will be officially opened by Professor Dame Mary Beard next month.

Prof Beard is an Emerita Professor and Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, and the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, with worldwide academic acclaim.

Her previous books include the bestselling, Wolfson Prize-winning, Pompeii, SPQR, and Women & Power. She has made numerous TV series and her books have been published in over 30 languages.

The official opening will take place on May 9.

Ness of Brodgar. (Jim Rylatt)
The Ness of Brodgar excavation, Stenness, Orkney. (📷 Jim Rylatt)

Running from May 4 until September 30, Ness of Brodgar: Past, Present and Future looks back at two decades of excavation and ahead to the project’s next phase, which is the analysis, interpretation, and publication of all the material found.

Running over multiple galleries, the exhibition is the largest hosted by the Orkney Museum to date and will feature hundreds of finds from the Ness never before displayed in public.

The exhibition has been timed to celebrate and coincide with the final season of excavation at the Neolithic site, a project managed by the UHI Archaeology Institute and Ness of Brodgar Trust.

During her visit to the county, Prof Beard will be shown around some of the key archaeological sites by staff from the UHI Archaeology Institute.

The Ring of Brodgar and the south-eastern tip of the Ness of Brodgar.  (📷 Jim Richardson)
The Ring of Brodgar and the south-eastern tip of the Ness of Brodgar. (📷 Jim Richardson)

As well as visiting the Ness of Brodar site itself, and meeting Nick Card and Anne Mitchell, she will be shown around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site by Professor Jane Downes, Professor Colin Richards and Dr Siobhan Cooke-Miller, before spending a day in Rousay, where the group will be joined by Martin Carruthers, site director of The Cairns excavation in South Ronaldsay.

Speaking ahead of her visit, Prof Beard said: “I am really looking forward to coming back to Orkney and it is a huge honour to be opening the Ness of Brodgar exhibition. I fell in love with Orkney on my first, all too brief, visit. Then I spent most of my time at the amazing Scapa Flow Museum.

“I am looking forward to going back there – but also to discovering my inner prehistorian. What better place than Orkney?”

The UHI Archaeology Institute excavation site at Skaill farm, Rousay.
The UHI Archaeology Institute excavation site at Skaill farm, Rousay.

Convener of the Orkney Islands Council, Councillor Graham Bevan, said: “The incredible Ness of Brodgar dig has been a fixture of Orkney’s summer for twenty years now, attracting visitors and archaeologists from all over the world.

“To have someone of Professor Beard’s standing within her field to open the Orkney Museum exhibition is a huge honour and I look forward to welcoming her to Orkney.”




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