Dig Diary – Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Day Three

The first public tour of the season gather around site guide Roy.
The first public tour of the season gather around site guide Roy.

Open to the public…

The extension to Trench J began first thing this morning with de-turfing.
The extension to Trench J began first thing this morning with de-turfing.

We’ll begin today with a message for those who object to weather references in our archaeological reports.

Weather-phobes, you might call them.

Whether they like it or not, the Ness of Brodgar Daily Diary will have lots of, not just archaeology, but weather details for the next eight weeks. So there!

Good progress by 2pm - but it's hard work!
Good progress by 2pm – but it’s hard work!

The reason is simple. It matters. It matters particularly to our intrepid diggers who, for the past two days, have been working in Sahara-like conditions while wrestling with malodorous tyres and plastic sheeting.

And flies. Oh, the flies. Not just midges, you understand, but their big blue brothers who swarmed in their thousands over the site.

Cleaning in Structure Twelve.
Cleaning in Structure Twelve.

Sigurd, our talented photographer, had to ditch 60 per cent of his photographs yesterday because so many featured a fly, or flies, which had settled, unnoticed in the glare of the bright sunshine, on his lens.

Today, things are much better.

Almost all of the coverings have been removed, with the exception of some black plastic protecting the precious occupation level floors, which will be sampled and examined in detail.

It is undoubtedly hot, but not unbearably so, which gave our kind-hearted site director Nick the excuse to require the Trench J team to begin the small extension to their trench by hand de-turfing, rather than calling in an expensive JCB.

There are sound archaeological reasons for this decision.

Earlier work on Trench J and Structure Five, which it contains, had uncovered important artefacts close to the ground surface.

The "central paved area" and entrance to Structure One.
The “central paved area” and entrance to Structure One.

These included the site’s first macehead, early examples of incised stone, a curious little pit and a cache of flints which may have been contained in an organic bag of some sort.

Back to Back in Structure Twelve.
Back to Back in Structure Twelve.

Even with the most talented of JCB drivers (which we have), the risk to further artefacts was too great to allow anything but delicate work with picks and shovels.

That work is complete this afternoon and everyone hopes that the extension will allow the uncovering of all of Structure Five, which may well turn out to be a building from the earlier part of the Later Neolithic (if not even earlier).

Elsewhere on site the cleaning work which has taken place has left the structures looking spick and span and ready for the serious archaeology which will start tomorrow morning.

Visitors have already started to arrive in large numbers and our first tour this morning had over 100 enthusiastic Ness fans.  Our Octobus tours from Kirkwall have also started and anyone without transport should consider booking a tour.

The on-site shop is also up and running, staffed by some great volunteers who are also meeting-and-greeting visitors as they arrive in the car park.

Tomorrow, excavation starts in earnest, spurred on by our first find of the season this afternoon, which is a nice piece of flint from Structure One.

We’ll see you tomorrow.