This has allowed us to essentially work out who was breathing the same air on the islands at a particular time – how communities were living close by one another and yet differed.”She added: “People in the Neolithic made choices, just like us, about all sorts of things – where to live, how to bury their dead, how to farm, where and when to gather together – and those choices are just beginning to come into view through archaeology.
It’s not absolutely constant due to several variables that affect the levels of cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere, such as the fluctuating strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, solar cycles that influence the amount of cosmic rays entering the solar system, climatic changes and human activities.
The result appears to be a picture of small communities living in close proximity to each other but with often distinct and varying traditions and habits ranging from their housing and burial structures to the types of pottery they used.
Archaeologists believe this was a symptom of increased competition between the islands’ various communities, a dynamic which may well have later led to Orcadians spreading their technology and nous throughout the British Isles.
It also coincides with the construction of the Ring of Brodgar, the structure of what was originally some 60 standing stones.
It is one of the Orkney’s most important monuments and is of a similar age to Stonehenge.