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Viking hall where powerful chieftain may have quaffed an ale is uncovered

Digging inn: Archaeologists uncover the drinking hall’s stone remains PICTURES: PA

A VIKING drinking hall that could have been used by a high-ranking chieftain up to 1,000 years ago has been unearthed in Orkney.

The discovery at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to have been of high status and to date back as far as the tenth century.

Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga — a Norse historical narrative of the archipelago — as the home of 12th-century chieftain Sigurd.

Whorl I never: A fragment of a comb and (below) a spindle whorl, both made from bone, were unearthed

Dan Lee, co-director of the archaeological project, said: ‘You never know, but perhaps Earl Sigurd himself sat on one of the stone benches inside the hall and drank a flagon of ale.’

The hall appears to have been more than 43ft long, and stone benches were found inside the remains of its walls.

A team from the University of the Highlands and Islands worked with students and residents to uncover the building. They had long hoped for the discovery because Skaill means hall.

Also found at the site were soapstone from Shetland, pottery, a fragment of a bone comb and a bone spindle whorl, used in spinning yarn.