Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Tracing the Lines - pots and people in the Late Neolithic

Tracing the Lines - pots and people in the Late Neolithic
30 April 2018

Prehistoric pottery is the focus of the Orkney Museum’s summer exhibition for 2018.

‘Tracing the Lines: Pots and People in the Late Neolithic’ follows the development of Grooved Ware pottery and its spread throughout Britain.

Behind the exhibition is Dr Mike Copper, of the University of Bradford, who is currently undertaking a Historic Environment Scotland funded project on the dating of Scottish Grooved Ware and who replicates prehistoric pottery using traditional methods.

The exhibition, which opens on Saturday 5 May, looks at how the pots are made, decorated and fired. It aims to introduce visitors to Grooved Ware, the pottery of the Late Neolithic (roughly 3100-2500 BC), that has been found at sites such as Skara Brae and the Ness of Brodgar.

Mike said: “Pottery was of great importance to people in prehistory for everything from storage and cooking to religious and mortuary rituals.

“Because of this it is a very common find on archaeological excavations. Grooved Ware was the first widespread, flat-bottomed pottery in Britain, and it seems to have developed in Orkney, probably at sites such as the Ness of Brodgar, before spreading across the whole of Britain and Ireland.

“It is likely to have held a particular significance to people at this time as it replaced all of the previously existing regional styles. This makes it very important for our understandings of society in the Late Neolithic.”

The exhibition will include examples of Grooved Ware from sites across Orkney, in addition to a number of replica vessels.

It will explain how Neolithic pots were made and the ways that pottery is useful to archaeologists, as well as the nature and development of Grooved Ware itself. Examples of more recent pottery and vessels from other cultures will show how pots can be much more than just simple everyday items.

Among the items on display will be examples of pottery from Africa, loaned by Stromness Museum.

‘Tracing the Lines: Pots and People in the Late Neolithic’ runs until the end of September. The Orkney Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10:30 to 17:00. Admission is free.