Stone Circle Cult on Orkney (04:29)
Though most of the structures at the Ness of Brodgar on Orkney Islands are from 3,000 B.C., they were built on top of another settlement from 3,500 B.C. The date means it is older than Stonehenge and possibly the start of the stone circle cult, where eventually spread throughout Great Britain. Marine archaeologists have found a circular stone mound, which is thought to be inspiration for the monuments.
Midden on Orkney (03:28)
Archaeologists discover a garbage dump just outside the walls of the Ness of Brodgar. A hole is found at the bottom of the pit that possibly leads to a chamber tomb. Naturalist Chris Packham wonders why there are so many cattle bones but few from other animals.
Stone Mound on Orkney (02:58)
Marine archaeologists take a core sample of the underwater stone mound to see if it was ever above sea level. It was once above land, but they need to run further tests to figure out when.
Abandonment of Orkney (05:37)
The Ness of Brodgar thrived for 1,000 years but was abandoned at about 2,200 B.C. Packham and Neil Oliver are spending the night of the island of Swona, which was inhabited from the Neolithic period to 1974, to try to understand why the ancient Orcadians left. Oliver speculates that they gave up their harsher Stone Age life to embrace the Bronze Age on the mainland.
Cultural Shift on Orkney (06:36)
The Bronze Age saw the end of large stone dwellings and communal chamber tombs that were common in Neolithic culture. New technologies, like water heating and saunas, would have overtaken simpler elements of Neolithic life. Elements of Scandinavia culture begin to appear in Orkney during the Bronze Age, hinting that contact with the region increased.
New Technology on Orkney (04:13)
Engineer Shini Somara is attempting to build a Bronze Age sauna, which became common on Orkney as the Stone Age ended. Torbet investigates a tunnel found at a Bronze Age archaeological site.
Mysteries on Orkney (07:49)
Carbon dating results show that the stone mound was already underwater by the Neolithic period, which makes it unlikely to have been the inspiration for the stone circle cult. The hole in the midden has been deepened to reveal more stone slabs. The Bronze Age site archaeologists uncover both ends of the tunnel, suggesting it was a secret passageway to the underground sauna.
Environmental Changes on Orkney (02:24)
Coastline loss could be one of the reasons the ancient Orcadians left during the Bronze Age. Archaeologists on the island of Sanday found Neolithic homes that were buried under sand. By 2,200 B.C., the sea level around Orkney began to rise and storms became more frequent.
Sacrifice on Orkney (02:36)
The Ness of Brodgar was abandoned in 2,200 B.C. and archaeologists found thousands of burnt cattle bones inside the dismantled temple. The slaughter of the 400 cattle is believed to be a sacrifice to mark the end of life at the ness. The bones are being sent for tests to see if all the cattle were from Orkney.
Early Building on Orkney (02:28)
Archaeologists at the midden have uncovered multiple stone stables and believe they could be from a dismantled stone circle. It could mean people were building on the site before 3,500 B.C.
End of Orkney (04:33)
Test result show the cattle slaughter at the Ness of Brodgar in 2,200 B.C. were all from Orkney and possibly the same herd. It could mean the abandonment of the ness was a carefully planned event. Afterward, Orkney lost its significance in British history and culture.
Credits: Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney: Episode 3 (03:38)
Credits: Britain's Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney: Episode 3
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