Since 2007, excavations to rescue irreplaceable archaeological remains being lost to erosion beneath the Links of Notland on the Orkney Island of Westray have unearthed a fascinating and valuable hoard of Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts.
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The latest to emerge from the depths of pre-history is a third hand-carved stone figurine, which joins two similar Bronze Age carved figures found at the site. The first, discovered in 2009, is believed to be the earliest artistic representation of the human form ever found in the British Isles.
All three are now to be displayed at the Westray Heritage Centre, where the public will be able to see for themselves the level of artistry and invention of our prehistoric ancestors and find out more about the Notland settlements and other material uncovered there.
But it is the trio of figurines which is eliciting most excitement. Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop led a visit from the Scottish Cabinet today and described them as an “unprecedented find”.
“The level of artistry, workmanship and skill demonstrated by these and the other finds at Links of Noltland clearly shows that our ancestors of 5000 years ago were a cultured and intelligent community,” added the Minister.
“It also allows us to speculate about what motivated and inspired them – were these used in ritual, what significance did they have and how common were they?
In 2009 an exhibition showing the first figurine, known as the Westray Wifey or Orkney Venus, toured around Scotland and was seen by more than 100,000 people before it returned to the Westray Heritage Centre where it has helped to increase visitor figures.
Excavations at the site which has attracted interest from archaeologists since the 19th century, will resume in September and the public are welcome to visit.
- You can see the figurines and other exhibits at the Westray Heritage Centre, Pierowall ,Westray, KW17 2BZ. Contact 01857 677414 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.