Having a whale of a time: Neolithic, and later, finds at Cata Sand, Sanday, Orkney


Wednesday 18 October 2017, 5.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr. Vicki Cummings

In August and September 2017 a team from UCLan and UHI investigated sites at Cata Sand and Tresness on Sanday in Orkney. We examined some occupation remains on the beach in the intertidal zone. Initially thought to date to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age our excavations soon revealed that we were working on an early Neolithic house. This would have been contemporary with the chambered tomb at Tresness where we also conducted some trial excavations. The biggest surprise, however, were the remains of multiple whales deposited into two large linear pits. These headless but articulated whale remains are much later in date and give us some unique insights into life on Sanday a few centuries ago. This paper presents the preliminary results of our recent excavations.


Vicki Cummings is a Reader in Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire where she has worked since 2004. She specialises in the Mesolithic and Neolithic of Britain and Ireland, with a particular focus on the transition period, monuments and landscape. She has a broader interest in hunting and gathering populations and stone tools. She has excavated a series of Neolithic monuments including Clyde cairns, Bargrennan monuments and dolmens.

Location: The Philip Rahtz Lecture Theatre (K/133), King's Manor

Admission: This is part of the York Seminar series and is free to attend and open to all.