The Birsay Bay Project: Volume 3 - The Brough of Birsay, Orkney - Investigations 1954-2014 [Hardback]

Christopher D. Morris(Author); Rachel C. Barrowman(Editor)

ISBN: 9781789256079 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2021 | Language: English 720p, H11.7 x W8.3, color
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The Birsay Bay Project


The Brough of Birsay was the power-center of the Viking earldom of Orkney and is one of Historic Environment Scotland’s key monuments and visitor attractions on the islands. This publication is the culmination of 60 years of investigations that took place on the site between 1954 and 2014.

This new volume incorporates comprehensive accounts of work undertaken by Dr Ralegh Radford and Mr Stewart Cruden between 1954 and 1964, excavations by the Viking and Early Settlement Research Project under the direction of the author on site between 1974 and 1981, a rescue excavation in 1993, a geophysical survey in 2007 and archival research up to 2014.

Specialist artifactual and palaeobiological studies of metallurgical material, ogham inscriptions and a gilt-bronze mount of Insular origin are included, together with reanalysis of the radiocarbon dates from all sites in Birsay Bay, and a reassessment of the architecture and dating of the church and related buildings on the Brough itself.

The final two chapters put the Brough, as both a Pictish power-center and the hub of the Viking earldom, in the overall context of Birsay Bay and Viking and late Norse Orkney, and the wider world between the Pictish and late Norse/Medieval periods.

As well as being the author’s third and final volume reporting on work for the Birsay Bay Project, this volume completes a trilogy of studies of the Brough itself, alongside Mrs Cecil Curle’s and Prof John Hunter’s earlier monographs.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of tables

Part I. Background and context for investigations 1946–2014
1. Background by Christopher D Morris
2. The Birsay Bay Project and the Brough of Birsay by Christopher D Morris

Part II. Area I: The church and churchyard
3. Historical background to the 1950s–1960s investigations at the church, associated buildings and churchyard on the Brough of Birsay by C A Ralegh Radford
4. Investigations by Ralegh Radford and Stewart Cruden on the church compiled by Christopher D Morris
5. Investigations by Ralegh Radford and Stewart Cruden on the buildings north of the church compiled by Christopher D Morris
6. An architectural analysis of the church and related buildings on the Brough of Birsay by Richard Fawcett
7. The graves, churchyard enclosures and notable stone monuments compiled by Christopher D Morris
8. Reassessment of the ‘Celtic Enclosure’ in 1981 by Christopher D Morris

Part III. Area II: The buildings east of the churchyard
9. Investigations by Radford and Cruden on the area to the east of the churchyard (‘The Viking House’) and excavations in ‘Room 5’ of the ‘Small buildings’ in 1973/4
10. Explorations in 1993 on the cliff-side to the south-east of the churchyard by Christopher D Morris

Part IV. Area III: The buildings west of the churchyard
11. Investigations by Radford and Cruden on the buildings to the south-west of the churchyard by Christopher D Morris
12. Area excavations 1974–80 in and around Structure N by Christopher D Morris
13. Area excavations in 1974–5 in and around Structure L and trial excavations in 1977 on features around Structure M by Christopher D Morris
14. Area excavations in 1976–80 in and around Structure E to the west of the churchyardby Christopher D Morris
15. Area excavations in 1977–81 in and around Structures ‘S’ and B to the west and north-west of the churchyard and re-assessment of the dating of Structures F, P and R to the north
16. Specialist studies relating to Area III

Part V. The south-western cliff-side area
17. Survey and trial investigations 1979 and re-assessment of the dating of Sites VIII and IXby Christopher D Morris
18. Investigations on the Peerie Brough 1979–81 by Christopher D Morris

Part VI. Economy, landscape and analysis
19. The artefactual assemblage by Colleen E Batey
20. The biological assemblage by Christopher D Morris based on work by D James Rackham with others
21. Geophysical prospection 2007 on the Brough of Birsay by Susan Ovenden and David W Griffiths
22. Overall re-assessment of radiocarbon dates from Birsay by Zoe Outram
23. Birsay Bay landscape geophysical surveys, 2003–6 by David W Griffiths with Susan Ovenden

Part VII. Drawing the threads together
24. The Brough of Birsay and Birsay Bay in retrospect by Christopher D Morris
25. An overview and final assessment by Christopher D Morris


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