Dig Diary – Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day Two

Structure Eight's floors remain protected from the torrential onslaught of rain.

Structure Eight’s floors remain protected from the torrential onslaught of rain.

And the rain came down

Today it rained. And rained, and rained and rained. Then it rained some more. It’s still raining.

It would be nice to report that our rugged excavators dug on, through the howling precipitation, but, by starting time, it was clear that this would be quite impossible.

The surfaces underfoot were now extremely treacherous and, quite apart from the safety considerations, any attempt to trowel in such sodden, sticky conditions would probably cause damage to the archaeology.

In short, the diggers went home.

Rain of Biblical proportions stopped play for today.

Rain of Biblical proportions stopped play for today.

Not so the supervisors, who sprinted through the rain to the various huts and cabins to start the preparations for their paperwork.

The subject of paperwork is one accepted by archaeologists with a weary shake of the head, but is often something of a puzzle to non-archaeologists.

In many ways, the profession is extremely advanced, taking full advantage (as at the Ness) of every high-flying scientific analytical technique available. Laser recording is used on-site, as is the more usual three-dimensional recording of finds and, of course, it is a given that all and every detail much be noted in often excruciating detail.

Usually the hills of Hoy serve as a backdrop to Structure Twelve. Not today, however — only rain laden clouds.

Usually the hills of Hoy serve as a backdrop to Structure Twelve. Not today, however — only rain laden clouds.

All of this necessitates reams of paper products for recording sheets, drawings, planning and the meticulous detailing of the many different contexts present.

It is extremely time-consuming and nobody has as yet come up with a more convincing way of doing it, at least not one which would be accepted by what is, in some corners, a very conservative profession.

All suggestions welcome on a (digital) postcard.

Back to the weather. The best that can be said is that tomorrow and Thursday appear reasonable, with a threat of more rain on Friday.

Our tours start tomorrow at 11am, and we would urge all visitors to come prepared for any weather eventuality.

We did have some visitors yesterday, including a valiant band of architectural conservation students from Edinburgh and Germany, who struggled through the rain while managing to come up with penetrating questions.

If the weather is bad tomorrow, or any day, the site can also be enjoyed through our new guidebook (yes, we’re plugging it again), available at good bookshops and on the internet, with all proceeds going to excavation funds.

And now, from a soaking Ness, and until tomorrow, goodbye.

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