Orkney Islands (04:07)
New archaeological discoveries are reshaping the view of Stone Age Britain. Neil Oliver is traveling to the remote Orkney Islands with naturalist Chris Parkham, engineer Shini Samara, and archaeologist Andy Torbet to learn more about the island.
Ness of Brodgar (02:10)
The site includes 14 massive, enclosed stone structures, which were incredibly rare for the time. The ancient Orcadians built the complex in the Neolithic period, shortly after farming began.
Tomb of Lairo (06:36)
The team arrives at the site to help Oliver investigate the theory that Orkney was the center of the religion that dominated Stone Age Britain. The site is surrounded by stones circles, some of which have monuments like Stonehenge. Oliver goes to the island of Rousay to see the Tomb of Lairo, one of the oldest.
In about 3,000 B.C., the ancient Orcadians increased the scale of their stone burial tombs. Maeshowe is one of the largest, which was built by staking huge stones to create an arch.
Stone Circles (02:18)
The ancient Orcadians created the monuments throughout the islands and they eventually spread throughout Britain. Ring of Brodgar is one of oldest, which means Ness of Brodgar could pre-date 3,000 B.C. Archaeologist are hoping to carbon date the lowest level of soil at the site.
Orkney Vole (06:00)
The animals are only found on the Orkney Islands. Skulls have been uncovered at the Ness of Brodgar site. It is thought voles were brought to the Orkney Islands by people from mainland Europe, possibly Belgium, in the Neolithic period.
Travel to Orkney (04:10)
The vole's show Neolithic Europeans decided to go to the Orkney Islands despite the dangerous waters of the Pentland Firth. The voles not being in the rest of Britain means Orkney had greater connections to mainland Europe. Orkney's climate and landscape has evolved, so it was an easier place to live and farm in the Neolithic period.
Stone Building (08:39)
With a small supply of wood, the ancient Orcadians turned to stone as a building material. Tobert visits the rocky western coast of Orkney and examines the exposed geology. The ancient Orcadians took advantage of how the rocks divided into sedimentary bands.
Stone Moving (03:40)
Geological data shows some of the stone monoliths were moved more than seven miles. Samara gathers a group of volunteers to see if they can move a stone using only Neolithic tools.
Orkney's Importance (05:30)
If carbon dating proves the site was built before 3,000 B.C., Orkney could be the birthplace of stone circle monuments. The Neolithic village of Skara Brae on Orkney has similarities to a village uncovered near Stonehenge, which is the earliest example of shared culture.
Ness of Brodgar's Age (03:22)
The team receives results from the carbon dating sample. The site could be from 3,500 B.C. and means it could be the start of stone circles and shared culture in Britain.
Credits: Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney: Episode 1 (00:33)
Credits: Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney: Episode 1
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