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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Dig unearths Neolithic settlement
Orkney dig
Only a small part of the site on Orkney has been dug
The remains of a massive Neolithic settlement dating back more than 5,000 years have been discovered in Orkney.

Archaeologists said the discovery could be as significant as the famous prehistoric village at Skara Brae, which was unearthed in 1850.

The site at Ness of Brodgar lies in the heart of Neolithic Orkney, between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness.

The finds have included a Neolithic mace head and decorated stones.

Only a small part of the site has been dug, exposing large oval stone buildings subdivided into small chambers.

This is going to tell us an enormous amount about how people interacted and worked within the stone circles
Julie Gibson

Archaeologists from Orkney College hope the area will unlock some of the secrets of the people who lived there.

Nick Card, who is leading the dig, said: "What we have is a whole series of buildings - unfortunately we've only managed to open a tiny percentage of what is actually here.

"The buildings which we have been uncovered are of a kind never seen before.

"Some of the structures do appear to be domestic in nature but one, the main structure in the big trench, is much more complex with very symmetrical architecture.

"The scale of the building and its refinement would suggest that it perhaps had some other function other than domestic."

Archaeologist Julie Gibson told BBC Radio Scotland that the site was hugely significant.

She added: "This is going to tell us an enormous amount about how people interacted and worked within the stone circles.

"People who were staying here were probably putting up the stone circles, or certainly having their ceremonies at them - living right next door or coming for meetings there."

Footage of the dig on Orkney

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