Monday, March 25, 2019


Skara Brae women archaeologists who were written out of history. The photographs were taken at Skara Brae, probably in 1929. An "excavation" on social media has provided names for four women shown in pictures of a dig in Orkney.
The women - shown in photographs taken in 1929 - had been assumed to be tourists or visitors.

But since Prof Dan Hicks, from the University of Oxford, tweeted the images they have been named as archaeologists working on the site. Those behind the search say it shows how women have been written out of the history of archaeology.

Another version of the picture shows excavator Prof Gordon Childe in a trench. One of the women in the image is clearly shown holding a trowel. Dr Antonia Thomas from the University of the Highlands and Islands told BBC Radio Orkney the photographs were "brilliant". But highly staged.

She says: "Everybody on site is looking towards Gordon Childe", who led the excavation of Skara Brae in 1928 and 1929. The Neolithic village at the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Orkney's mainland had first been uncovered by storms towards the end of the 19th Century. "But just in the foreground, within the trench area, are two women who are laughing, and looking toward Gordon Childe as well." The Neolithic village of Skara Brae in Orkney was uncovered by storms at the end of the nineteenth century One of the women is clearly holding a trowel, and close examination of their shoes suggests they are covered in mud and dust. Dr Mairi Davies from Historic Environment Scotland explained that despite the preconceptions, women were active in archaeology at the time.

"In the arts faculty at that time in some years there were actually more female students than male. And his classes reflected that gender balance. "So we know that there were several women in Prof Childe's classes at Edinburgh. And we know that some went on to be very active field archaeologists."


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