Orcadia: Land, Sea and Stone in Neolithic Orkney (Paperback)
The Orcadian archipelago is a museum of archaeological wonders.
Its largest island, Mainland, is home to some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, the most famous of which are the passage grave of Maeshowe, the megaliths of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the village of Skara Brae – evidence of a dynamic society with connections binding Orkney to Ireland, to southern Britain and to the western margins of continental Europe.
Despite 150 years of archaeological investigation, however, there is much that we do not know about the societies that created these sites. What historical background did they emerge from? What social and political interests did their monuments serve? And what was the nature of the links between Neolithic societies in Orkney and elsehwere?
Following a broadly chronological narrative, and highlighting different lines of evidence as they unfold, Mark Edmonds traces the development of the Orcadian Neolithic from its beginnings in the early fourth millennium BC through to the end of the period nearly two thousand years later. Juxtaposing an engaging and accessible narrative with beautifully evocative photographs of Orkney and its monuments, he uses artefacts, architecture and the wider landscape to recreate the lives of Neolithic communities across the region.
Mark Edmonds is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of York. He has published books on material culture and landscape, many of them exploring the intersections between archaeology and the visual arts. His recent books include Conversations with Magic Stones, The Beauty Things (with Alan Garner), and Stonework – a collection of poetry and prints with Rose Ferraby. Mark is co-founder of West Side Cinema in Stromness, Orkney, where he now lives.