Britain’s Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney
Orkney – seven miles off the coast of Scotland and cut off by the tumultuous Pentland Firth, the fastest flowing tidal race in Europe, is often viewed as being remote. But recent discoveries there are turning the Stone Age map of Britain upside down. Rather than an outpost at the edge of the world, recent finds suggest an extraordinary theory – that Orkney was the cultural capital of our ancient world and the origin of the stone circle cult which culminated in Stonehenge. Neil Oliver, Chris Packham, Andy Torbet and Dr Shini Somara join hundreds of archaeologists from around the world who have gathered in Orkney to investigate at one of Europe’s biggest digs.
Chris Packham uncovers the secrets revealed by the DNA of Orkney’s unique vole, Neil Oliver explores Orkney’s tombs and monuments, Dr Shini Somara experiments to discover how the Orcadians could have moved giant blocks of stone over rough ground and archaeological adventurer Andy Torbet climbs Orkney’s most challenging sea-stack to unlock the story of Orkney’s unusual geology.
In the second of this three-part series, Andy Torbet and some local seafaring volunteers build a boat made of just willow and cow hide and set out to cross the dangerous Pentland Firth as the ancient Orcadians would have done. Neil Oliver investigates the extraordinary discovery of some human bones, Chris Packham goes in search of whales and Shini Somara uncovers the powers of the tides.
In the third of this three-part series, Andy Torbet dives below the waves in search of the inspiration for the first stone circle, Chris Packham and Neil Oliver spend the night on an abandoned island as they hunt for clues as to why cultures change, Shini Somara tests the technology behind a Bronze-Age sauna and the archaeologists uncover a remarkable find.