Sunday, 25 January 2015

Mea Culpa

OK - I admit it - I have been neglecting this blog dreadfully, if it was a houseplant it would've curled up and died by now, no excuse apart from the usual - I've been really busy!

So since it's now January 2015 and I haven't touched this since July 2014, a quick run down:

Orkney's archaeology was the cover star of the August 2014 issue of National Geographic, which sparked huge interest from all over the world, particularly from the USA, consequently there'll be lots more American visitors to Orkney in 2015

The Ness of Brodgar 'Sponsor a Square' board was a huge success, raising just over £12500 on site, which with the Gift Aid reclaimed from the taxman came to £14700 in total.

Even better news came in Autumn 2014, with the news that new sponsors had been found for the Ness to enable two extra weeks to run in both 2015 and 2016.

However slightly bizarrely although the extra two weeks a year are funded,  we're still fundraising for the other 6 weeks, as funding each year has to be raised on a year-to-year basis - so although we have the extra 2 weeks we haven't necessarily got the usual 6 weeks.

Nick (Card -site director) always spends all the time he's not digging trying to raise the money to dig again & he's always succeeded in the past see - Ness of Brodgar Trust or the American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar Inc for more info.

Thanks to all the publicity Orkney's archaeology's been getting we've sold out our 2015 season even earlier than we usually do, so we're booking now for 2016, and we've also got the Council for British Archaeology Members' Group visit in August.

There's a solar eclipse on March 20th, which will be 98% of totality in Orkney (providing it's sunny enough for us to see the sun disappear!) & we've got intrepid visitors coming to see that from the Ring of Brodgar - fingers crossed for good weather.

Speaking of weather - Orkney managed to make it onto the National news just before Christmas with talk of a 'weather bomb' aka 'explosive cyclogenesis' with lots of dire predictions - when it arrived it turned out to mean it was going to be a bit breezy, the splendid Dave Gray of Radio Orkney did a piece for Radio Scotland about how we were all used to weather like that & what was all the fuss about?

This winter has been wet & windy - but I think it's just because we've had a run of mild & calm winters & you forget what a proper Atlantic winter is all about.

Never mind, spring's on the way, heard the first whaup (curlew) call today, which is pretty early, earliest I've heard them before is February, and the light is starting to come back, not pitch dark on the first dog walk of the day anymore!

Orkney Archaeology Tours - for your perfect Orkney holiday

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ness of Brodgar - summer madness here again!

Ness of Brodgar has restarted - this is week 2 of 6 weeks. We're frantically trying to raise more money to pay for the dig to run for 8 weeks in 2015, & to this end Nick Card (esteemed site director) & friends have set up a Scottish Charity the Ness of Brodgar Trust and is in the process of getting American charity status for  the American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar

As part of our ongoing support for the dig we are sponsoring both of these websites - ok to be more accurate I rashly offered to set up them up for Nick who has neither the time  to do it himself  nor the money to pay a web designer (have you seen what they charge!!! £5000 for a 6 page site - I don't think so!). But it does sound more corporate to say grandly that 'Orkney Archaeology Tours sponsors this website' than to say it's me & the cat & a dodgy internet connection! (And the cat doesn't do much apart from sitting on the keyboard at inappropriate moments).

I then got drawn in to raising money for the scaffolding viewing platform at the Ness - as an act of desperation managed to crowdfund the platform through the incredible generosity of friends of the Ness both in Orkney & elsewhere

Also took on the 'Sponsor a Square' board at the Ness - this was Nick's idea a few years back, involving a little cork notice board with a site plan of the Ness with a grid over it, you paid £10 to sponsor a square of the dig by sticking a little red paper dot on it.

A very good idea, & 195 squares were sponsored in the 2013 season, which is not bad, but a couple of problems - too small & not weatherproof, so couldn't be left outside, & not very visible, & no one had the time to do any follow up so no-one who sponsored a square found out if there were any great finds in their square.

Over the winter my friend Pat (fellow tour guide & general co-conspirator) & I were having lunch & started talking about the squares board & how it could be improved & in a moment of madness decided we should do it ourselves. We'd pay for it ourselves in our 'corporate identities' & I'd build it in our shed.

It all came together nicely - after much deliberation - as you can see in the pic:

It's been a huge success so far - about 250 squares sold in the first 7 days - including yesterday our first 'star' endorsement - Jeremy Paxman of Newsnight fame was visiting & sponsored one.

It does mean if it keeps on at this rate I'll need to get more map pins to stick in the squares  - got a 1000 thinking that would be enough for next year too.

Also will have a very large excel spreadsheet showing who sponsored which square so I can let them know what's been found - may be a bigger job that I had anticipated!

There's also been a big cover story about the Ness of Brodgar in National Geographic magazine, which is sure to increase publicity for the dig.

And just to keep me busy there seems to be a rush of early bookings for our 2015 holidays and there's a lot of group interest too - both international & closer to home. We have the Sacramento Archaeology Society board of directors coming in August - and they're obviously keen to see the dig at the Ness of Brodgar - and the week before we're also doing the Council for British Archaeology Member's visit to Orkney in 2015 

Have been neglecting this blog a bit in favour of  our Facebook page which is a lot quicker to update