Dig Diary – Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Day Eight

Trowelling in Trench T, while a tour group views proceedings. (Jo Bourne)
Trowelling in Trench T, while a tour group views proceedings. (Jo Bourne)

Fantastic finds and a family atmosphere

With a full viewing gallery watching, Jim photographs Structure Eight with the aim of creating a 3D model. (Jo Bourne)
With a full viewing gallery watching, Jim photographs Structure Eight with the aim of creating a 3D model. (Jo Bourne)

One of the nicest things about working at the Ness is the genuine family atmosphere.

Many of our diggers come back year after year and today sees the very welcome return of Structure Ten supervisor Sarah.

This time, though, it’s Sarah plus, for she has brought along her first baby, our newest recruit, the delightful and eminently ooh-aah-able Caitlyn.    

Ray and Sigurd investigate the drain from Structure Five. Moments after this photograph was taken Ray uncovered his beautiful polished stone axe.
Ray and Sigurd investigate the drain from Structure Five. Moments after this photograph was taken Ray uncovered his beautiful polished stone axe.

The hunt is on for a small enough trowel for Caitlyn, but in the meantime  Sarah will turn her thoughts to the many complexities of Structure Ten, all of which  she has wrestled with, and in many cases clarified, in recent years.

A new supervisor for Structure Ten will arrive next week and Sarah will be involved in the handover, which will entail lengthy consultation, reams of drawn plans and no doubt a good deal of pointing out vital details. 

Fresh from the earth – Ray’s stone axe.

Over in Structure Eight, Jim has been busy photographing every conceivable feature from several angles.  

In fact, he has taken over 1,000 images which he will then turn into a 3D model of the entire building.

This will be of huge help as a basis and double-check for the many plans of the building.

Hopefully, Jim will be able to get images of the new model onto his Sketchfab page in the near future, so you can all appreciate it.

The highly polished stone tool recovered from Trench Y.
The highly polished stone tool recovered from Trench Y.

In Trench J, one of our lucky diggers, Ray, (lucky in that he has a knack of uncovering nice things) has found a very handsome stone axe.

This came from a lower area of the trench which was initially excavated several years ago and which Ray and Sigurd had returned to in order to further investigate a drain emanating from Structure Five and that punctures the surrounding boundary wall. This should help clarify the relationship between the two and hopefully prove the primacy of the enclosure wall.

The rubble spread in Trench Y.
Signs of the western wall? The rubble spread in Trench Y.

The intriguing pot sherds from Structure One which were noticed on Tuesday have now been lifted.

A little initial drying and the very lightest brush with a soft natural hair brush has further defined the many parallel incisions which closely cover the largest sherd.

There is nothing unusual about flowing incisions on the surface of Grooved Ware vessels, in particular those from the earlier part of the later Neolithic.

But this vessel has rather more of them than we would expect to see on sherds of this size. Further drying, and a little more light cleaning, may aid understanding. We’ll let you know.

Trench Y, where the hunt for the putative western wall is hotting up, has produced another enigmatic find.

The large shaped and dress stone - probably robbed from Structure Ten in antiquity - removed from Structure Twenty-Six today.
The large shaped and dress stone – probably robbed from Structure Ten in antiquity – removed from Structure Twenty-Six today.

It is a stone tool, seemingly of quartz and very highly polished. It has seen heavy use wear and damage and one end appears unusually bulbous.

It suggests, though, some sort of hand tool for use both in heavy impacts and as a polisher/smoother. However it is finally described it is a lovely thing with a magnificent polish.

The rubble spread in Trench Y, which may be the result of stone robbing, has been even better defined today and there are high hopes that the original wall face may still be found under the material which seems to have tumbled from the top of the wall.

Jo McKenzie back in Structure Eight. (Jo Bourne)
Jo McKenzie back in Structure Eight. (Jo Bourne)

Trench T has been the subject of lively discussions between site director Nick and supervisor Cristina.

She is very positive that we are coming to the end of the pits which have held up progress thus far and believes that the midden deposits on and around the mysterious Structure Twenty-Seven can now be removed fairly quickly, not as an individual series of fine layers, but by grouping layers together. This will quicken the pace of excavation without in any way losing information.

We also welcome back today one of the most important contributors to the Ness in the form of Dr Jo McKenzie who will be taking further micromorphological samples.

Jo will then analyse the samples and give us vital information about the formation of floors and the activities which took place on them.

It is now rather cold on site, so we’ll finish here and see you tomorrow.