The Newark Project 2019-2022 5th April 2019. ORCA, the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, have received £202,000 funding from Historic Environment Scotland for further work on the site. What we could have done with that - or any - money! And so the Newark Project was born. October 2019 update. In 2018 a group from Scottish Coastal Heritage At Risk visited the site, and the protective sandbagging noticed in 2017 was extended. Historic Environment Scotland have since been providing more sandbags to be filled locally for more shoring up sessions. HES also want to have the academic work arising from the excavations of 50 years ago pulled together and this has resulted in the Newark Project; over a three year period there will be further research involving mainly professionals from ORCA at Orkney College along with the Orkney Museum and a host of volunteers, including “old” diggers. Using the latest technology Deerness will be able to meet some of the ancestors at last and piece together a lot of its lost history. This is planned to culminate in 2022 with an exhibition in the Orkney Museum at Tankerness House in Kirkwall, pulling together all the strands - archaeological, historical and social - of this complex site. We always knew it was important! Greetings ... ... to any Yorkneyites (Yorcadians?) visiting these pages dedicated to documenting the York University dig at Newark Bay, Deerness, Orkney, carried out between 1968 and 1973. It all began in 1967 when Sam Berry was apparently chasing butterflies at Newark and spotted some bones in the cliff face that he thought his friend Don Brothwell might be interested in … 1968 saw a group of students from the University of York begin digging up the chicken run at Mr Delday's farm at Newark Bay in Deerness in Orkney; so perhaps it’s about time to see what was achieved over the six years of the dig, and what, if any, lasting results were achieved. and an apology … We were a group of undergraduates, mainly studying English literature, with no previous knowledge of archaeology, who came to Newark primarily to find some medieval skeletons to go to the British Museum under the stewardship of Don Brothwell, who was at that time head of the sub-department of Anthropology. In our search the walls, flagstone floors, graves and their occupants were all photographed and drawn. We noticed the shells that appeared to have been placed around the skeletons, and we guessed there was a cultural significance. Some of the graves were outlined with slabs which were photographed and then discarded; one of these may have been the Pictish grave slab recently discovered apparently in some trench backfill. 3D view of Pictish Cross Slab, Deerness, Orkney, by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark. What evidence from the tunnel and “earth house” as to their possible use did we overlook and lose? There was probably a lot that we weren’t trained to see. So our site is now considered to have important early religious significance, and Historic Environment Scotland along with UHI are considering how best to treat the constantly eroding cliff face. I have to say that current archaeologists have so many more resources in the form of scientific research techniques (and proper education - and funding apparently) available to them than we did in the archaeological dark ages of the 60s. Diggers’ view ... In the summer of 2005 while we were staying at Cantick Head on Hoy, some friends from our York days were touring the northern islands of North Ronaldsay, Papay and Westray. York had a dig on Westray, so they visited, and suddenly realised that references were being made to our Newark Bay dig, and its apparent lack of documentation. Having been there with us, they knew plans had been carefully drawn, notes and photographs carefully taken and finds labelled and boxed up for further study. So this is a collection of some, mostly unofficial, oddments: somewhere, in some archive or museum basement, the official records must, hopefully, be lurking. If you have any documentation, photos or other memorabilia you wish to share please email me, Sue Hopkins, at the following address, replacing the word (at) with @ please: sue (at) hopkinsweb.org.uk
Photo galleries Black and white photos from 1970/71 Site photos 1991/2017 Photos of the dig 1968-1973 1968-69 1970 1971-73 Memorabilia 1968 Sid’s introduction for diggers Sid’s report on first year of dig Photos 1969 1970 Plans and diaries Newark Chapel Souterrain 2 Part of Reg's diary from 1969 Sue's diary from 1970 - The Dig, social as much as archaeological Sue’s diary from 1971 - The Dig, Holland Park School, and Living Orcadians Links ORCA, Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology ORCA blog Historic Environment Scotland Scottish Coastal Heritage At Risk Orkney College Canmore National Library of Scotland map page Newark souterrain Newark fogou Thanks to Sigurd Towrie at The Orcadian this is what that newspaper said about us in 1969, 1970 and 1971. Click on images to enlarge articles.
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The first photo in this group is one I took in 2017 on one of my regular visits to check on the site since the 1970s. The next two are from the Friends of St Ninian Deerness Community page on Facebook, and show more sandbagging in June 2019 and the fourth rather bad photo is of a poster advertising US in the Deerness Co-op window also in June this year (2019).
Orcadian 1969 Orcadian 1970 Orcadian 1971 2017 sandbagging Bad photo of poster in Deerness Co-op window. 2019 sandbaggers at Newark. Photo ©FOSN 2019 sandbaggers at Newark. Photo ©FOSN
THE YORKNEY FILES
The map on the header is from the Balfour Estate archive and shows Newark as a courtyard house and not z-plan.
Don Brothwell, without whom none of this would have been possible, died in September 2016. A celebration of his life was held on Thursday 15th December 2016, 4.00 to 7:00pm in the Huntingdon Room, King's Manor, York. There is also an In Memoriam webpage that has been collecting stories and photos from Don's friends and colleagues, and he has an entry in Wikipedia.