Dig Diary — Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day Twenty-Two

Overview of the Ness of Brodgar excavation site, looking towards the Stones of Stenness. (Picture: Adam Stanford/www.aerial-cam.co.uk)

Thwarted by the elements

The weather has been an ever-present element in the diary this year, and for good reason.

Working out-of-doors quickly brings the realisation that it is absolutely vital to what you do. Not just in the matter of comfort, but also in efficiency and in working safely.

After the torrential rain of much of today, it became clear that the site is just not safe enough to work on. The surfaces, and in particular the stones, were slippy and the thought of trowelling wet, clayey soil, was intolerable.

Material of that sort sticks to your trowel like glue and the sight of smeared stones and marked soil surfaces is enough to make the average site supervisor despair.

Anyway, enough is enough. We have called it a day.

Some activities continued for a time, like the teaching mentioned below, and in the house, pottery, stone and bone work were relatively unaffected. Anne, Sam and Scott continued to man the finds huts and to grapple with the huge amount of material which has been found. And in this diary we have also assembled some nice examples of Adam’s high-resolution photographs on site.

Amazingly, our faithful visitors continued to arrive and were shown around in the brief intervals of half-decent weather but by the middle of the afternoon everything was closing in again.

The weather forecast remains poor but we will be back in the morning and, hopefully, will have much more to tell you about this amazing site.

Structure Ten, looking west. (Picture: Adam Stanford/www.aerial-cam.co.uk)

From the Trenches

Hi all! My name is Julia and I’m an archaeology major from Willamette University.

It’s hard to believe that our field school team has excavated here for more than three weeks now!  We have all learned so much and found many interesting artefacts (both pot and not).

As I am writing this, the rain is pouring down and Nick has declared an early teabreak to see if the downpour lets up or whether we will have to abandon site.

Our Willamette professor, who is leading our field school group, has taken this opportunity to gather our group in the shed and teach us about Simple Harris Matrix.  For our school, we have to fulfill a number of requirements and get them signed off by our supervisors on site.  We have to complete certain tasks on site, like using the GPS to map out small finds or recognising different layers in the soil and filling out context sheets for the areas we work in.

The supervisors are a great help and with only a few days left we have all made tremendous progress on some of the different technology and paperwork that makes excavating worthwhile and lucrative.

Our time in Orkney has been well spent, these islands are absolutely exploding with archaeology from all different eras and it has been more than amazing to be part of it.

Unfortunately, for today it looks like our time has run out on site. Due to the ever pleasant Orkney weather we have been on site for less than an hour.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring drier weather, knock on …um …stone.

Structure Twelve, looking west. (Picture: Adam Stanford/www.aerial-cam.co.uk)

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