A decorated stone disc from Ness of Brodgar, Orkney

Work is underway looking at the stone tool assemblages from the Neolithic site at Ness of Brodgar, Orkney. As well as a large number of flaked lithics there is a substantial assemblage of larger stone tools including axes, maceheads, ground stone spatulate tools, cobble tools, Skaill knives, stone discs and a wide range of grinding stones and polissoirs.

This stone disc showed its true colours during a gentle wash to remove some mud. As it glistened in the light fine scratches became visible. The lines are faint and it was difficult to catch a clear image as the raked light also caught the natural roughness of the stone’s surface.

One face had been incised with a pair of opposed triangles – the distinctive ‘Brodgar butterfly’ design. A closer look reveals other fine lines forming triangles.


The Ness of Brodgar is rich in decorated stonework and it is particularly found on structural stones within the buildings. Antonia Thomas is currently researching the dressed and decorated stone from Ness of Brodgar as part of her PhD at Orkney College and you can find more about her work in the September/October 2014 issue of British Archaeology.

The study of the stone artefact assemblages is being carried out by Mark Edmonds, Hugo Anderson-Whymark and Ann Clarke as part of a larger Leverhulme funded research project –¬†Working stone; making communities¬†– based at the University of York.