Mine Howe

Orkney College/Orkney Archaeological Trust excavation - Mine Howe, Tankerness, Orkney.

Directed by Prof. Jane Downes and Nick Card, the investigations of this Iron Age ritual site utilised large scale geophysical survey, extensive excavation as well as augering and landscape survey, to reveal unparalleled evidence for in situ Iron Age metalworking (ferrous and non-ferrous) situated immediately outside the monumental stone-revetted ditch which in turn surrounded the complex underground structure of Mine Howe.

Aerial view of Minehowe landscape looking south east

Section through the encircling ditch

Intensive sampling of the metalwork shop has been employed to gain an understanding of the spatial, social and ritual as well as technological aspects of metalworking and artefact manufacture at this site.

Metalworking workshop outside the main ditch

Early (Iron Age) evidence of the creation of plaggen soils is also attested at this site. The existence of an agglomeration of the ritual sites of Mine Howe, Round Howe, and the site of an early chapel within the Mine Howe environs, together with the finding of many unusual artefacts and human remains are features which call to mind Irish royal sites, such as Tara, and Knowth, and offer rich scope for further research planned into Celtic and Nordic mythologies and affinities.

Looking in the chamber from the top


Burial of a young woman under the floor of the metalworking workshop

Glass bead from Minehowe

Post excavation being undertaken by Orkney College, Bradford University, Sheffield University, Stirling University, National Museums Scotland and individual specialists.

Seal fish spoon Credit -National Museums of Scotland

Funded by Historic Scotland/Orkney Enterprise/Orkney Islands Council/Time Team.