Dig Diary – Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Day Seventeen

Trench T - a hive of activity.
Trench T – a hive of activity.

When is a bowl not a bowl?

The worked flint found in Trench Y today.
The worked flint found by Natalie in Trench T today.

There was considerable excitement in Trench T today, with the discovery of what looked very like the base of a round-bottomed bowl.

 If true, this would have thrown the current interpretation of the trench upside down, for round-bottomed bowls are from the earlier Neolithic and would have no business being in this one’s location.

The find was most carefully excavated and, luckily, Nick was on hand to examine it at close range.

To the horror of onlookers he flicked it with a finger – which is not a recognised excavation technique – but he knew exactly what he was doing as the round-based bowl was nothing of the sort.

Trench Y this morning. The stone-lined hearth is visible in the mid-left of the picture.

It turned out to be a heat-crazed cobble stone, admittedly looking very like a pot sherd but, as countless new diggers have discovered, much of the Ness pot can look like stone and vice versa.

There was some compensation for this disappointment, though, as Natalie has found a very handsome flint,

Over in Trench Y, where the putative wall is still being sought, frustration reigns supreme.

Allesandro with a curious stone from Structure One that features a tiny, carefully carved, circular depression.
Allesandro with a curious stone from Structure One that features a tiny, carefully carved, circular depression.

We have already mentioned the discovery of some insubstantial curving walling at the very lip of the trench and this has now been expanded to include part of a stone-lined hearth.

This structure may be an early Neolithic building which has been extensively stone-robbed, but there are no plans to investigate it further by extending the trench.

Work will continue instead on the wall search.

The spread of shillety shale-like material is exactly what would be expected from a substantial wall which had been stone-robbed, so the presence of exactly this in Trench Y should indicate the remnants of such a wall.

Is it there? Or has it been totally robbed out?

A close-up of the Structure One stone.
A close-up of the Structure One stone.

There is still some excavation to be done, although everyone in the Trench Y team deserves a medal for the amount of material already shifted. All we can do it keep digging and await developments.

In Trench J, there has been planning and the removal of more of the overlying layers and collapsed material within Structure Five.

This has now revealed some rough pseudo-paving, whose level matches exactly the pseudo-paving found outside the blocked entrance.

This may indicate yet another phase for this increasingly complicated building.

 

Painstaking sampling under way by the Structure Ten team.
Painstaking sampling under way by the Structure Ten team.

If anyone should meet one of the diggers working in Structure Ten, under the excellent guidance of supervisor Sinead, please be nice to the poor souls.

Excavating a bone spread from Structure Twenty-Six.
Excavating a bone spread from Structure Twenty-Six.

They have been working hard gridding out the surface of the floors in 50cm squares, and now the dreaded task of sampling these squares, together with the mass of paperwork which is involved, is under way.

We won’t dwell on their suffering, for although this work is tedious and time consuming, the resulting analyses from XRF and other techniques can shed amazing detail on the life of this most important of buildings.

Our animal bone expert, Dr Ingrid Mainland has now arrived on site from her earlier work on the island of Rousay. She will examine the new bone finds from the excavation thus far this year and give us valuable guidance.

Lastly, and for all photography fans, we now have an Instagram account, where you can find many new pictures of the site and where you can also leave comments (we prefer nice ones).

Until tomorrow…