The Braes of Ha’Breck, Wyre, Neolithic Settlement
Directed by Antonia Thomas & Dan Lee.
Fieldwork between 2006 and 2013 revealed the remains of five buildings and associated middens and work areas, and a domestic stone quarry on the island of Wyre. These have been radiocarbon dated to c.3300-3000 cal BC and produced a sizeable collection of stone tools, round-based pottery and one of the largest charred grain assemblage from a Neolithic context in Scotland. Trench A contained two conjoining stone-built houses (Houses 3 and 5) and an earlier timber house to the east (House 4).
House 3 looking south to House 5 with deposits of black burnt grain visible in the floor.
House 4 with central scoop hearth and post holes.
House 5 looking north to House 3 with internal piers, drain system and central hearth.
A rammed stone working floor to the east of House 4 was contemporary with this structure, and both were later sealed with midden during the use of the stone houses. House 3 contained several floor levels and a distinctive horizon of burnt grain at the northern end. Trench B contained an extensive rammed stone working area and the edge of a stone quarry (also found in Trench E). Radiocarbon dates suggest that the quarry was the stone source for the houses. Trench C contained a timber house which was superseded by a stone house on the same footprint (House 1 and 2).
Stone quarry (Trench E) for the houses. The quarry was deliberately filled after use and eventually capped with midden.
This project is now in the post-excavation stage.
Lee, D. & Thomas, A. 2012 ‘Orkney’s First Farmers: Early Neolithic Settlement on Wyre’. Current Archaeology 268: 12-19.
Farrell, M. Bunting, M J. Lee, D H J. Thomas, A. 2014 ‘Neolithic settlement at the woodland’s edge: palynological data and timber architecture in Orkney, Scotland’. Journal of Archaeological Science 51, 225-236.