Dig Diary — Monday, July 29, 2013

Yet another intricately decorated slab to keep Antonia busy.

Yet another intricately decorated slab to keep Antonia busy.

Day Eleven

Site director Nick Card being interviewed by Sir Tony Robinson and Francis Pryor.

Site director Nick Card being interviewed by Sir Tony Robinson and Francis Pryor.

A strange sort of sticky goo is leaking from the screen of the laptop on which this blog is being written.

That’s how hot it is.

Truth to say, there have been no casualties of the weather today thus far, and everyone is being sensible and drinking lots of water.

We did have one visitor, who is riding a motorbike around Orkney. Earlier in the day he had stopped in Deerness to take in the scenery and his helmet was instantly invaded by midges.

Several hours later, he was still looking a little flustered and had taken refuge in the shade, behind the site shop.

What about the archaeology?

Well, as Martha often says about some of her rocks, it was looking more than a little “toasty” but we’ll talk about that in a moment.

Mark Littlewood of ORCA Marine completes a new laser scan of Structure Ten.

Mark Littlewood, of ORCA Marine, completes a new laser scan of Structure Ten.

As Seb mentions below, we had a visit from the Time Team unit who are making one of their “specials”, this time on prehistoric religion.

Sir Tony Robinson coped with endless directorial requests to repeat questions in a remarkably unflustered manner.

Francis Pryor, who is always a favourite, not just for his knowledge but also for his genuine enthusiasm, was simply ecstatic at some of the incised rock he was shown.

Site director Nick, who is showing serious signs of melting into a puddle, answered multiple questions with admirable fluency.

All in all, it seemed to go well.

We will see how much time the Ness is given in the programme when it appears, probably next year.

In Structure Twelve, Anne, who is always reckoned to be a lucky digger, has uncovered a large spread of bone and pottery just to the south of what appears to be an area of burning.

This will take a good deal of lifting and probably will have to be left until tomorrow.

As will the three large sherds of Grooved Ware pot, with applied decoration, which Helen discovered just outside Structure Twelve’s south-east wall.

This is almost certainly more of the large pot discovered nearby last week and lifted on Friday.

Plan of the south end of Structure Eight nears completion.

Plan of the south end of Structure Eight nears completion.

The students from UHI and Willamette, more of whom arrived today, were being taught laser scanning around Structure Ten by Mark Littlewood of ORCA Marine.

Mark’s laser equipment hums and whistles to itself, merely increasing the belief that the process is something of a dark art.

Elsewhere in Structure Ten, Mike continues to work on the corner buttress and, in Structure Eight, Dave and Jane will soon have the planning finished and be able to contemplate tackling the floor deposits in the structure.

While undertaking this slow, and labour-intensive, process, where the planner gets an intimate perspective on each stone, Jane was rewarded with a new, finely decorated stone that had been washed and revealed by the torrential rain over the weekend.

Last, and by no means least, we are being visited for a few days by Michael Balter, the distinguished writer for Science magazine.

He is preparing an article on the site which may be ready for publication as soon as the autumn. Now that is a fast turnaround. Faster, even, than your blog.

From the Trenches

Mai and Seb finally get to start their planning in Structure Twelve.

Mai and Seb finally get to start their planning in Structure Twelve.

Got to site this morning at the start of what can only be described as a beautiful day.

The sun has been shining with almost no wind and no cloud cover all day and, sure enough, everyone is starting to complain. Well, what else can I really expect this is Britain.

It has been a slow day so far though.

Myself and Mai have spent the first half either getting ready to plan the eastern half of Structure 12 or recording small finds on the total station.

The sun brings out massive crowds to one guided tour.

The sun brings out massive crowds to one guided tour.

The big draw for today seems to have been the impending visit from Time Team for some kind of show they’re recording.

Everyone seemed to be pretty excited to see them all morning and when they did finally show up there were a few excited squeaks from people whom I won’t name.

Sure enough, though, they got down into our structure and, the last I saw, had completely taken over the area we were meant to be planning this afternoon. It’s a little frustrating, but no worries; at least it’s still a beautiful day outside.

The last week has been spent cleaning, recording and removing roof tiles from the structure to get it ready for planning, and I can’t wait to see what will come out of the next layer underneath it all.

We have already found a whole bunch of pottery sticking out of the next context that we can’t touch yet and some kind of smooth stone as well which looks interesting. I can’t quite get away from the excitement of possibly starting to come down on to some real floor deposits as well, but there’s plenty of time for that yet.

The big goal for what’s left of today is to try to win the “Touch Tony Contest” that a few of us have started among ourselves, the point of this contest being to see who can touch Sir Tony either the most times or the most creative way.

Unfortunately, it’s proving to be a trickier contest than earlier anticipated, so it looks like I’ll have to up my game a bit.

Seb

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