Dig Diary – Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Day Seven

Calm reigns supreme

Declan with the butt end of a polished stone axe he found in Trench Y today.
Declan with the butt end of a polished stone axe he found in Trench Y today.

Can the moon influence the behaviour of people? Somewhere, lurking at the back of our minds, we have a vague recollection of accounts of just such an effect.

We wonder, therefore, if calm, still, rather heavy weather, devoid of wind with barely a ruffle on the lochs, can influence those on an archaeological dig.

If so it will explain the strange mood which settled over the Ness today.

Everyone was calm, nobody cursed the stone they had just dropped on their foot and work progressed with almost mechanical concentration.

Even Bryn, the site dog and deputy site director, spent much of the day dozing, raising his nose only with the approach of a tray of kindly donated cream cakes.

Mike, Declan and Pete at work in Trench Y. The rubble spread at the top of the trench can be seen at the bottom of the picture.
Mike, Declan and Pete at work in Trench Y. The rubble spread at the top of the trench can be seen at the bottom of the picture.

We are not being fanciful here. Visitors remarked on it and some could be seen hanging over the scaffolding of the viewing platform with dreamy expressions on their faces.

The diggers in Trench Y will dismiss this with scorn for they have been probably the hardest workers on site for the last two days. No dreaming there, for huge volumes of soil have been shifted in the attempt to find the wall which, we hope, runs along the west side of the site.

We told you yesterday that rubble had been uncovered which may have been caused by the robbing of the large stones from the putative wall. More is appearing today but there have also been two interesting finds.

Jut what was needed! Thank you for the freshly baked cakes Mary.
Just what was needed! Thank you for the freshly baked cakes Mary.

Declan uncovered the butt-end of a small polished stone axe which has sadly lost its cutting edge.

Mike leapt on a finely made pot sherd which he identified as being possibly part of a round-based bowl.

It came from the bottom of the excavated area, which lends weight to the suggestion, as both the wall and the sherd are likely to be early.

Work will carry on there tomorrow and there are high hopes of finding more definitive evidence of the wall.
 

Jim's 3D reconstruction of Structure Twenty-Six.
Jim’s 3D reconstruction of Structure Twenty-Six.

Over in Structure Twenty-Six, more peck-dressed stone has appeared, but there are strong suspicions that its original location was not Structure Twenty-Six.

Site director Nick suggests it may have been removed from Structure Ten or Structure Twelve. Some of the peck-dressed stone is yellow sandstone and the only place we have found such stone before is in Structure Ten, which lends considerable weight to his theory.

We know stone robbing was rife on site in antiquity, but it is perfectly likely that the purloined stone was built into later Ness buildings rather than being removed from the site entirely.

Smile! You're on camera. The film crew mingle during tea-break this morning.
Smile! You’re on camera. The film crew mingle during tea-break this morning.

Structure Twenty-Six was also the star of the show today as it formed the focus of a TV team from ARTE a German/Austrian documentary company. 

Jim Bright, our in-house photogrammetrist was on hand to showcase his skills at creating scaled 3D  virtual images of the structure – sorcery for those not au fait  with such technology!  

Not only is it a fabulous way of adding another dimension to recording the site but also saves innumerable days instead of traditional planning of such complex structural remains.

In Structure Eight, Jo and her team are carefully preparing for more work on the floors and sondages (carefully excavated, deep holes).

Jo and Nick are also liaising with previous structure supervisors Catriona and Andy who, we hope, will be able to attend in person later in the dig.

In Trench T, Cristina and her team are, sadly, encountering more elements of the pits which have bedevilled the structure for some time now.

Some of them are probably associated with the stone robbing of the site, but they continue to be a nuisance and the sooner they are gone the better.

However, let’s hope that this most unusual state of calm persists until tomorrow, when  we will see you once more.