Dig Diary – Friday, July 27, 2018

Day Twenty

Marcus's stone axe in situ in Trench Y this afternoon.
Marcus’s stone axe in situ in Trench Y this afternoon.

STOP PRESS – Again in typical manner in the dying moments of today, Marcus, in Trench Y, was rewarded with the discovery of a very large polished stone axe – the biggest so far discovered at the Ness.

Its business end has been very heavily used and has been badly damaged with the removal of many flakes from its edge, however this does not detract from its ascetic attraction.

Stone rivalry!

Today's decorated stone from the area between Structure Twenty-Six and Structure Twelve.
Today’s decorated stone from the area between Structure Twenty-Six and Structure Twelve.
Structure Twenty-Six

The Ness is renowned world-wide for the number and quality of its stone carvings, many of which are found built into the walls of the structures. At the last count we have over 850 examples, some of them quite stunningly attractive.

Today we have added some more.

In the area between Structures Twelve and Twenty-Six, Claire and Diane identified another horned spiral on one end of a block of stone. Travis (he of the pottery discoveries) was set to brushing gently the other end of the stone and immediately uncovered what looks like an upside-down “eyebrow” motif.

These discoveries come hard on the heels of the discovery of the horned spiral motif on a stone in Trench J yesterday. Two in 24 hours, a new world record!

Today, Trench J refused to be beaten and the team there have struck back with another stone-pecked design which looks like irregular cup marks.

Where will this stone rivalry end?

All of these fascinating stones have been carefully removed and have been taken to safe storage in Kirkwall where they will be studied closely.

An intriguing discovery in Structure Ten

The suspected dog jaw fragment found in the infill surrounding Structure Ten.
The suspected dog jaw fragment found in the infill surrounding Structure Ten.

Over in Structure Ten, Sinead and her team continue with the unpicking of the floor deposits and the voluminous accompanying paperwork.

It is not the most enjoyable archaeological task but it is paying dividends with the uncovering of more of the probable primary clay floor.

Sinead has also made an intriguing discovery.

She has traced what appears to be the remnants of an internal wall which runs from just to the north of the entrance all the way to the back wall of the building.

Chris and Jenny removing the infill from the Structure Ten outer passageway.
Chris and Jenny removing the infill from the Structure Ten outer passageway.

This may be what is left of a robbed-out dividing wall, possibly primary, which points once more to later Neolithic interest in devising and using different ways of utilising internal spaces in their structures.

A mention now for our forgotten (not really) heroes, husband-and-wife team Chris and Jenny, who have spent the last weeks painstakingly dismantling part of the infill which is left in the passageway around Structure Ten.

This is largely composed of bone but Chris, a retired vet and experienced digger, has used his professional expertise to identify several dog teeth and what is possibly part of a canine jaw-bone.

Jenny has even longer experience of this particular archaeological section, having spent much of last year with Jasper recording multitudes of bone for the Smart Fauna programme.

New hearth for Structure Eight?

Emma with the flint tool she found in Structure Eight today.
Emma with the flint tool she found in Structure Eight today.

In Structure Eight, as in Structure Ten, the team have been making good progress removing the floor deposits on a grid plan at the south end of the building.

Structure Eight is a most unusual building.

It has five hearths, but today we have added a new one. It has appeared close to the southernmost hearth, but it may not correspond to Structure Eight.

Instead, there is a chance that is actually part of the underlying Structure Seventeen poking through the floor.

Boost for Trench Y

Trench Y this morning.
Trench Y this morning.

Lastly, but by no means least, the stalwarts of Trench Y, who have undergone emotional rollercoasters as they search for the wall to the east of the site, have had another boost.

At the very bottom of the trench, at long last, some large blocks of stone are beginning to appear. These are sealed by some of the shillety layer seen earlier and may, at last, indicate the remains of the wall.

More digging must be done before we can be sure, but it is looking good.

What the Trench Y team need now is a good rest over the weekend.

We’ll join them and see you next week.