Dig Diary – Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Day Thirty-Eight

The protective covers start going on in Trench P…

That’s all folks!

Well folks, that’s it.

The 2018 dig season at the Ness is now over.

...and in Trench T.
…and in Trench T

Trowels have been replaced with tyres and the huge task of covering the entire site with sheets of plastic pinned down with car and truck tyres has begun.

We have had a wonderful time and the diggers and helpers have accomplished more than we ever thought possible.

Old friendships were renewed, new friendship have been formed and the Ness has as usual rewarded us all with, not just the most wonderful archaeology, but good memories and a deep satisfaction in work well done.

The unsung heroes of the Ness – Neil and Rosemary McCance with some of the thousands of small finds bags they prepare for us every year.

This is the last diary of the season and when final diaries were written in previous years it was a relatively easy task to thank everyone for their contributions.

For the past few years this has been impossible due to the huge numbers of people now vitally involved in what is an excavation of international importance.

Yet there are some, you might call them heroes of the Ness, who simply cannot go unsung.

Nothing could have happened without the consent and active help of the landholders, Ola and Arnie Tait and the Hoeys, of whom we have the fondest memories.

While the backbreaking work of putting the site to bed went on outside, inside the finds hut the work to sort, catalogue and store this season's finds continued apace.
While the backbreaking work of putting the site to bed went on outside, inside the finds hut the work to sort, catalogue and store this season’s finds continued apace.

Literally nothing would have been recorded without Neil and Rosemary McCance who, in addition to their volunteering work throughout the year in the Archaeology Institute, devote countless hours to writing out our small finds bags.

An excavation army doesn’t march on its stomach, rather on its knees, but we must also thank Mary, Brian, Mark and Andrew for providing us with delicious food which carried tired diggers through their breaks and on into another bout in the trenches.

Some of the pottery sherds recovered today from the area above Structure Thirty.

Site director Nick also wants to thank everyone on site over the past eight weeks for all their efforts, and hopes to see many of them back next year.

Also all of the OAS members and others who have volunteered in the shop and as “meeters and greeters”, car park attendants etc etc – and also Christine and Sam, without whom the shop would not have happened.

Lastly, and by no means least, we thank the leather-lunged lovelies (not you Keith) from Historic Environment Scotland who have taken the afternoon tours and allowed archaeologists to do other things.

Rob analysing and recording the hundreds of flint finds from Trench J this season.
Rob analysing and recording the hundreds of flint finds from Trench J this season.

We know perfectly well that there are many other people who deserve our warmest thanks but who are not named, so please accept our gratitude with apologies.

We should say a little about the archaeology in this, our last day.

Alette, our Geomatics expert, has been doing some maths and she has worked out that she and Jim have measured in 2,629 small finds this year.

They have logged 3,992 points in total, 478 of which were sample spots and 135 grid points.

The small finds have involved 1,421 examples of pot, 384 of bone, 334 of flint, 193 worked stone, 92 charcoal, 63 incised stone and 49 stone tools.

Planners extraordinaire Sophie, Gary and Sandra, who have been bent double for days creating the first full plan of Trench J. And the results are spectacular!
Planners extraordinaire Sophie, Gary and Sandra, who have been bent double for days creating the first full plan of Trench J – which is visible behind them. The results are spectacular – but, unfortunately, too large to reproduce here.

All we can say is…phew!

Over in the area above Structure Thirty more large sherds of pottery began to appear today. Some of it has been lifted but more, probably much more, will have to be left to next year.

We have had neither time nor space yet this year to tell you about the activities of our resident artists who have had their own hut on site.

This is a shame because they have done fascinating work.

We will redress this tomorrow, when the Ness of Brodgar website will have a piece by one of them, Dr Karen Wallis. We’ll look forward to that.

Lastly, we want to encourage you all to keep in touch with us over the next ten months before we return to the Ness (if finances permit).

We pledge to communicate regularly with you on the website, giving you the news of post-excavation work and outlining how we hope to approach the various tasks and problems we will face over the coming months.

It’s been an absolute pleasure for us to connect with all our friends and supporters around the world over the last eight weeks.

We’ll see you all next year.

Until then…


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