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John Hedges Memorial Lecture

In the 1970s and 80s John Hedges transformed our view of Orcadian prehistory. He began with the Tomb of the Eagles, in South Ronaldsay, where he provided a narrative account of the Neolithic based on scientific evidence.

His work on the brochs of Bu and Howe near Stromness were for their time unique. Both were mounds in fields that were threatened. At Bu, he found a stone-built roundhouse, a low broch, with surprising detail of its floor and the internal arrangements of the building. At the larger mound of Howe, it was evident from the beginning that amongst the stone was the remains of a broch, ‘that tower of prehistory’ as John termed it.

His work on the broch of Gurness in Evie, investigating the finds as well as the clearance of the broch and surrounding structures, enabled him to approach the excavation of Howe in a completely different manner. His discoveries of post-broch structures, and also buildings contemporary with the broch, led to a much wider understanding of them. With John’s lead the excavation team discovered more exciting details at Howe. These, together with other researchers’ subsequent work on Shetland at Old Scatness and South Ronaldsay, Orkney, are described by archaeologist Dr Beverley Ballin Smith. She worked with John at Howe, and brought the results of that excavation to publication.

In association with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, whose website features a tribute to John Hedges

You can watch this free event from here, through the YouTube link below, or if you’d like to join questions and discussion, you can also go to the Science Festival’s YouTube channel

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