Dig Diary – Friday, August 7, 2015

Day Twenty-Five

The massive, dressed sandstone block is revealed by Jan. It has now been safely removed to a high-security location.

The massive, dressed sandstone block is revealed by Jan. It has now been safely removed to a high-security location.

A day of great finds!

We have ended the week with a bang. No, more like a huge archaeological explosion. Toiling through the robber cut in the outer wall of the south-west corner of Structure Ten this afternoon, Jan and Claire began to uncover a large block of pink rock.

Further work revealed a massive block of pink/red sandstone, elegantly curved on two planes and covered on both sides with decorative and shaping pecking.

Some of the pecking appears to flow in parallel directions and there are signs of what may be incised decoration.

The two contrasting coloured, and dressed, blocks of sandstone recovered from Structure Ten today. How wonderful it must have looked when first built.

The two contrasting coloured, and dressed, blocks of sandstone recovered from Structure Ten today. How wonderful it must have looked when first built.

Nearby, two smaller pieces of rock emerged. One is a rhomodoid-shaped —  thanks, Jan —  piece of red sandstone with pecked decoration and the other is a handsome piece of dressed yellow sandstone.

Put them together and the red and yellow decorative effect is stunning.

The large rock is most intriguing.

Site director Nick wonders whether it may have formed one of the curving internal corners of the Phase One period of Structure Ten when the interior had a square shape with rounded corners.

Just to prove that Georgie is on site — or is this a hologram?

Just to prove that Georgie is on site — or is this a hologram?

He believes that these discoveries of decorated, and naturally coloured, rock reinforce the impression that Structure Ten, in its original manifestation, must have been the most wonderful piece of Neolithic architecture in Northern Europe.

We all agree.

One of the big questions to emerge is what happened to all the, undoubtedly handsome stone, robbed from Structures Ten and Twelve in antiquity.

It cannot simply have disappeared and the effort taken in its recovery makes it unlikely that it was just flung away.

Is there an even more magnificent building, featuring those decorated and colourful stones, which we have yet to discover?

Leaving that question aside, we have a message for Georgie’s Mum. Your daughter is safe and well and at the Ness — not in Bali.

Andrea is pleased with his discovery of the large piece of pitchstone found so far at the Ness.

Andrea is pleased with his discovery of the large piece of pitchstone found so far at the Ness.

A mixup led to confusion about Georgie’s whereabouts, but not only is she here, she is uncovering, at the moment, a fascinating deposit of artefacts in Structure Nineteen (under Structure Seven).

She has discovered an apparently deliberate deposition of a beautiful little flake of pitchstone – no doubt from the island of Arran, off the south-west coast of Scotland.

Grouped with it are two polished pebbles and a squashed pot with interesting decoration on its exterior surfaces.

Given the weather in recent days she may, indeed, long for Bali but we are keeping her here.

However, her find was eclipsed not long after when Andrea, working in a robbed out area behind the blocked up north entrance to Structure One, uncovered a large, and very beautiful, flake of pitchstone.

It still has some primary pebble cortex adhering so there is a possibility that other worked pieces may be nearby.

Hugo launched his ‘flying mattress’ into the air this morning, taking advantage of the better weather and a strong, steady breeze.

His pictures from the camera slung underneath are stunning and the site is looking absolutely at its best. One of the aerial pictures can be seen in today’s Dig Diary Extra.

Bill Ross, Orkney College UHI principal, and Professor Scott Pike, of Willamette University, signing the Memorandum of Agreement today, watched by representatives of both institutions.

Bill Ross, Orkney College UHI principal, and Professor Scott Pike, of Willamette University, signing the Memorandum of Understanding today, watched by representatives of both institutions.

The sun shone as the document was signed . . .

The sun shone as the document was signed . . .

Today also marked a momentous occasion in the relationship between Willamette University, in Oregon, and Orkney College UHI with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions — long may it continue to prosper!

In the wider world our popularity seems to be expanding.

We learned today that there have been more than half-a-million page views on the Orkneyjar Ness pages in the last couple of years (many thanks, again, to Sigurd for hosting us on his site).

In addition, we have now racked up 1,000 “likes” on the Facebook site of the American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar.

We’re glad you like us and we promise to bring you many more exciting episodes of events at the Ness.

But not until after the weekend.

Until then . . .

From the Trenches

Hugo and Woody — the amazing duo from Structure Fourteen — prepare Hugo's kite-camera for launch.

Hugo and Woody — the amazing duo from Structure Fourteen — prepare Hugo’s kite-camera for launch.

I have been volunteered by Nick to write this section today and I am not sure what I am going to report, so will start with my name, Gillian Foster.

I am working at Orkney Museum on a course sponsored by Museum Galleries Scotland, which finishes in February 2016. I was here the first week of the dig getting very wet and dirty, which I enjoyed greatly and such a change from the office environment.

I was a bit daunted the first week, as my course assessor was filming me with trowel in hand and I had to look like I knew what I was doing.

Well done to Kenny who found the clay ball on the first day tidying up in prep for the dig. I must admit I was a teeny bit envious, especially as it will be good reading on his reflective account, which we have at some point to complete.

Trench T today, with the later, Iron Age, 'collar' of stone clearly visible around the top of the mound.

Trench T today, with the later, Iron Age, ‘collar’ of stone clearly visible around the top of the mound.

With good weather, I have ventured out of the finds hut to dig today and I have really enjoyed the change. I might even go as far to say I enjoyed myself.

I have found a large tooth, not far from Jan, who must still be still be on a high from finding the very large pecked stone (see above).

I have had my head down today so not sure of any other relevant finds on the dig so far.

I was interested to see Hugo’s kite camera in action and would love to see the images when they are assembled.

My camera shot of the kite in the sky is pretty pathetic so I hope, Kenny, you have a photograph which is more worthy than mine — Kenny is my colleague on the traineeship and I know some have wondered if he is my son.

I am not offended (much) by this because my eldest daughter is the same age. Unfortunately for Kenny, I do sometimes sound like his mum, with gentle reminders as to whether he has his raincoat. Sorry Kenny but I know you will miss me really.

I am not aware of any very important people shown around today I should mention. Apologies if I have this wrong. Coming from a professional point of view all visitors are welcome and important.

Today is my last official day on the dig, but I am hoping Nick might agree to me helping out on the final week to close down. I have just about remembered most names, and apologies to those I got wrong.

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