Ness of Brodgar

Discovered little more than a decade ago, this mysterious temple complex is now believed to be the epicenter of what was once a vast ritualistic landscape. The site’s extraordinary planning, craftsmanship, and thousand-year history are helping rewrite our entire understanding of Neolithic Britain.

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Ancient Marshland

During the Neolithic, water levels were still rising after the last ice age, so the shore was lined with bogs and marshlands.

Where Heaven
and Earth Meet

Located in the center
of the site and the surrounding bowl of
land, this standing stone aligned with the spring and fall equinoxes and might have served as a symbolic axis between earth and sky.

Enclosed in Stone

Roughly 10 feet high and up to 18 feet wide, these are some of the largest prehistoric walls ever found in Britain.

Outdoor Rituals

Evidence suggests people didn’t live here year-round but visited periodically, perhaps to make offerings as part of a ritual procession through the site and its many buildings.

More Than Trash

Over 16 feet high, this midden pile is the biggest found in Neolithic Britain and may have had ceremonial functions involving fertility and cycles of life, death, decay, and renewal.

Building Techniques

The Ness provides the first evidence in northern Europe of roofs made of carefully trimmed, rectangular stone slates. Recent finds also indicate some walls may have been decorated with natural pigments and colored stones.

Circa 2800 B.C. The scene depicted here shows the Ness of Brodgar site in its heyday. The complex was remade several times and constantly
evolved throughout its thousand-year period of use.
John Tomanio, NGM Staff; Amanda Hobbs. Art: Dylan Cole, NGM Maps. Source: Nick Card, Archaeology Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands