Willamette to host lecture on site “Archaeology” calls one of the “Top 15 Discoveries of 2009”

At 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25, archaeologist Nick Card will present "Changing Perceptions: Recent Research and Excavation in the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site'" at Willamette University's Smith Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Card will discuss the remarkable Neolithic discoveries at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, located in Orkney, Scotland. The site is rich with archaeological finds, including: Maeshowe, a large chambered tomb; two standing stone circles called the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar; a Neolithic settlement of 10 dwellings called Skara Brae; the Great Wall of Brodgar, which may have been more than 13 feet wide and appears to traverse the entire Brodgar Peninsula; and the recently discovered 5000-year-old cathedral-like complex that Card and a team have been excavating.

This complex would have dominated the landscape. It includes several large buildings within a walled enclosure. "The largest building is an 82-foot-long, 65-foot-wide stone structure with 16-foot-thick walls enclosing a cross-shaped inner sanctum," writes Mark Rose in the current issue of Archaeology.

According to Card, "This is architecture on a monumental scale, and the result is the largest structure of its kind anywhere in the north of Britain. It's one of those finds of a lifetime." Archaeology named the Orkney site among its "Top 15 Discoveries of 2009."

Research and excavation at this World Heritage Site is changing perceptions of the late Neolithic landscape and the context of these iconic monuments. Geophysical survey and excavation efforts reveal a large interconnected ‘ritual' landscape. Such discoveries raise questions about dominant sites in the Neolithic. This was a landscape not only populated by people, but by monuments.

Card has worked frequently in Orkney since graduating from Glasgow University with a master's degree in archaeology. Over the last decade, he has managed and directed a wide range of projects for the Orkney Archaeological Trust and for the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology. Since the inscription of Orkney's World Heritage Site, he has been involved in research and fieldwork relating to the sites, directing excavations at the Bookan Chambered Tomb and the Neolithic complex on the Ness of Brodgar.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Salem Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, Willamette's Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology, the Hogue-Sponenburgh Lectureship Fund of the Department of Art and Art History, and the Lilly Project at Willamette University. For more information, please contact Andrea Foust at 503-370-6654 or