2022’s top ten – Rethinking Structure Eight’s original entrance
Unlike other Ness buildings, Structure Eight stands out as having a single entrance.
Measuring over 18 metres long by 9.5 metres wide, Structure Eight is the largest of the piered buildings found on site. In the years since its size became clear, there have been questions about the scale of its tiny doorway, which is just over half-a-metre wide at its narrowest.
We had thought the northern entrance belonged to the building’s primary phase, but excavation in 2022 suggested otherwise.
If, as we suspect from its size and multiple hearths, Structure Eight played host to large gatherings then its 60cm wide single entrance is hardly the most practical – particularly when you consider the size of some of the pottery vessels found on site.
But work around the northern end of Structure Eight in 2022 revealed signs of rebuilding around the existing doorway, pointing to an original entrance that was much, much bigger – perhaps in the region of two metres wide.
The stones on either side of the small entrance are not tied in, suggesting a rather unimpressive reconstruction to narrow the access. This may have occurred during the building’s second phase after the collapse of the roof’s southern end around 3000-2900BC.
The northern end remained in use, with a large post inserted to support the remnants of the roof. At this point, however, the building’s role seems to have changed which probably relates to the reduction in the size of the entrance.
There may have been a second doorway in Eight’s south-eastern corner, but this area was completely levelled to allow the construction of Structure Ten around 2900BC. Given the way Eight was superimposed on the footprint of Structures Seventeen and Eighteen, it is possible that the hypothetical door occupied the same space as Seventeen’s former entrance.