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The Eagle has landed! 2017 Swandro dig about to start

The 2017 dig at the Knowe of Swandro is about to start – the diggers are arriving over this weekend ready to descend on the site on Monday bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Hopefully they’ve all got stout boots and strong backs: uncovering the Swandro dig means moving the boulders of the storm beach by hand- round about 50 tonnes of stone need to be shifted to reach the excavation levels. All done by hand with no mechanical aids – it’s a good job most of the diggers are youngsters!

Lots & lots of boulder moving needed to uncover the site at Swandro
Lots & lots of boulder moving needed to uncover the site at Swandro

As you can see from the photo there's some fairly big chunks of stone there - but the diggers do build it into a nice wall to keep the sea back - King Knut eat your heart out...

Coincidentally our friends over at the Ness of Brodgar are starting to dig on the same day, but they have it easy – over the winter their site is covered with tyres and plastic, all they have to do unwrap it and there it is ready to go – bunch of wusses if you ask me!

Easy uncovering at the Ness of Brodgar!
Easy uncovering at the Ness of Brodgar!

We hope as many of you as possible will come visit us – we will be on site from Monday 3rd to until Friday the 28th of July, but best to visit from Wednesday 5th – Tuesday 25th July inclusive. We are closed on Fridays and Saturdays, and open Sundays – Thursdays.

The first step in visiting the dig is to get to Rousay. There is a regular ferry service on the MV Eynhallow from Tingwall in the West Mainland to Rousay – cars need to be booked in advance but foot passengers can just turn up - timetables online at Orkney Ferries and book by telephone through the Tingwall office on 01856 751360

MV Eynhallow, the boat to Rousay
MV Eynhallow, the boat to Rousay

By the way, the MV Eynhallow, whilst a wonderful boat in many respects, can be slightly daunting for the novice – she’s not exactly a Ro-Ro, she’s a Rev-Ro – reverse on, roll off. If you really can’t face reversing down a pier and a slipway onto a boat, don’t worry – give your keys to the boys on the boat & they’ll put your vehicle on for you.

If you come across as a foot passenger there is a public bus service on some days and a taxi/private hire service 7 days a week to get you from the pier head to the site, which us about a 6 mile walk otherwise. For transport in Rousay contact Richard tel 01856 821360

Mobile Number: 07746838761 E-mail:

To get to the dig please ask Richard to drop you at the car park (or park at the car park if you’re in a car) for Midhowe chambered tomb: if you look along the coast to the left you will see the excavation.

Please walk down to Midhowe then turn left and walk along the shore, keeping to the seaward side of the stone dykes. This is a pleasant walk in itself, taking you past the remains of South Howe broch, Brough Farm, The Wirk, St Mary's Kirk and Skaill Farm, then past the Knowe of Rowigar and on towards Swandro. You can walk along the edge of the storm beach cast up by the Atlantic and there are many wild flowers along the way, together with a large seal colony along the shore and you may even see some otters!

Once you reach the site you will be made very welcome and given a FREE site tour by one of the diggers – please be nice to them, they’re very young and some of them are quite shy!

We hope you can visit us this year, we’d love to see you. It would be even better if you could see your way clear to making a small donation in support of our work – you can donate via the buttons at the top and bottom of the page.


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