Dig Diary – Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Day Thirty-Two

High hopes realised

The camptonite axe - or adze - recovered from the Trench J extension this morning.
The camptonite axe – or adze – found by Tom in the Trench J extension this morning.

Yesterday’s diary explained the normal phenomenon whereby the end of the excavation season leads to a feeling that nothing much is likely to happen.

It also pointed out how wrong that was, with discoveries of artefacts such as the handsome cushion macehead, and structural delights such as the new wall facings of Structure Twenty-Seven.

We ended by saying that we had high hopes for today, and we were right.

In Trench J, the find-spot of yesterday’s camptonite axe by Colin, there was further excitement.

Excavation continued in the area of the hearth in the small extension and, just two feet from the location of Colin’s axe, another was discovered.

The axe, in situ, moments after its discovery this morning.
The axe, in situ, moments after its discovery.

To be accurate, this one is more of an adze than an axe, because one edge is clearly off-set to one side. It is, however, an excellent find.

Unfortunately, it caused an argument, something which rarely happens at the Ness.

 Finds supervisor Anne insisted that the adze was one material while site director Nick was equally firm that the adze was camptonite, a stone often found at the Ness.

Neither would retreat.

Now, Nick is undoubtedly a brave man, but there is such a thing as foolhardiness.

Regular readers in past years will recall that Anne hails from a redoubtable family.

Her mother, an otherwise saintly soul, is famous for cleaning the windows of her Oldmeldrum residence with a noxious, and probably corrosive, concoction containing whisky.

You don’t mess with a family who do things like that. In particular, you don’t mess with Anne, as generations of finds workers have discovered.

Luckily help was at hand. Our resident geologist, Martha, was called in and she confirmed that the adze was, indeed Camptonite, and Anne conceded with good grace.

We will say this, though. She knows where Nick lives and we suggest he looks out for the welfare of his windows.

The grinding stone (highlighted in red) is visible in this picture from Friday of the hearth in the Trench J extension.

There was more excitement from Trench J.

Again, in the vicinity of the earlier finds, Colin (again) uncovered a large dished grinding stone.

Beside it was the pebble which had clearly been used in conjunction with the grinding stone.

This is a rare and wonderful find.

Trench supervisors Paul and Colin at work on the Trench J extension hearth this afternoon.
Trench supervisors Paul and Colin at work on the Trench J extension hearth this afternoon.

To discover two artefacts which had obviously been used in conjunction with each other thousands of years ago is highly unusual and very satisfying.

The discovery of more wall lines in Trench J goes a considerable way to confirming that Structure Five is probably fully contained within the small extension dug this year.

If this precludes the need for another extension it will be welcome news. It also validates, almost completely, the strategy for the site, which was laid out before excavation began in July.

The saddest thing we must report today is that Trench T will be effectively closed by Thursday.

The students from Willamette University, Oregon, present Trench T supervisor Rick with the birthday cake they had made him.
The students from Willamette University, Oregon, present Trench T supervisor Rick with the birthday cake they had made him.

Our wonderful team of diggers, including many from Willamette University, in Oregon, have to go home.

Supervisors Cristina and Rick must also move on to other projects, so we were particularly pleased today when a group of visitors burst into congratulatory applause for the Trench T team. They deserve it.

We are afraid we have to end today on something of a downbeat.

Every year, when we leave the site at the end of August, we are already planning for next season and hope we will have the financial funds to come back.

Although the Ness is of international importance, we rely largely on donations and purchases from the people who visit us and buy things in the small site shop, or who donate online.

If we are to complete the telling of the Ness story, we need to have a more stable financial foundation, and so we appeal again to all our friends and supporters around the world to help us in any way you can.

Whatever you can manage, we will be so grateful and with your help the unveiling of this extraordinary site will continue.


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