Dig Diary – Wall after wall in Structure Twelve!
Wednesday, July 26
The day dawned bright, with a few drizzly showers about 1pm, but the sun soon returned.
And warmth after dampness means just one thing – midges.
They were a new (and unwelcome) experience for some of our diggers, who could be spotted across the site dousing themselves with liberal amounts of anti-insect sprays.
Anyway, we’ve finished another great day on site – and, best of all, a productive one.
It started off this morning with a site tour by Nick and all supervisors. He briefly reminded all of the strategy for this year before introducing the new diggers to all areas of the extensive site.
These tours are invaluable. Working on an archaeological dig as big as the Ness it’s very easy to focus solely on your own area and lose sight of the bigger picture. So it’s always good to get out of your spot and see what’s happening elsewhere.
The rest of the day was spent in the trenches getting on with the archaeological work. We’re reported on much of today’s tasks previously, so will mention only a few of the latest events in this diary instalment.
The situation in Structure Twelve remains as infuriatingly confusing today as it was yesterday.
Every time you think you have an answer to a question in this building, something else pops up to throw the proverbial spanner in the works.
Yes. We know that we should, at this stage, be used to the complexity of the Ness, but it still has a knack of catching us completely by surprise.
As reported yesterday, wall after wall have been appearing inside Twelve with uncanny regularity. These all underlie the building and must therefore relate to earlier structures.
We now have three and the jury is out as to what they represent.
To add to supervisor Jim’s walling woes, an apparent wall section in the south-western recess is accompanied by deep “holes” leading downwards about half-a-metre. At the bottom of this “void of despair” (Jim is a master of naming features) is more stonework – suggesting yet another earlier building.
But fear not. There there is a (cunning) plan.
Michaela will continue excavating around the “Hole Lotta Neolithic” (Jim again) and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on progress.
If nothing else the names might make a good title for an Indiana Jones reboot.
Meanwhile, the curved northern wall seems to relate to the wall section revealed by Linda in Twelve’s north-western recess on Monday and may be part of the same feature.
What that feature represents, however, is open to debate. Is it part of Structure Twenty-Eight? And, if so, does Twenty-Eight have a different floorpan to what we think?
Or was Structure Twenty-Eight, like Structure One, remodelled in later life, with a wall inserted across the interior to reduce its size?
The northern wall is just south of an area excavated by Sigurd in 2021. So he will relocate from Twelve’s eastern annexe to investigate.
The plan is to excavate a section through a pit to the north-west of the area which will take in both the path of the new wall and another further to the north. With luck – and patience – we’ll be able to figure out the connection, if any exists.
Over in Trench T, excavation has come on in leaps and bounds.
More orthostatic features have been revealed in the interior of Structure Twenty-Seven and hopes remain high that we’ll get all of the its floor uncovered by the end of the season.
In the building’s south end – directly opposite the entrance – Reyna has revealed cuts and packing for orthostats that appear very similar to that of the “dresser” found inside Structure Eight at the Barnhouse settlement.
Outside the building, Jackson continued excavating a deposit of animal bone running along a section of the north-western wall.
Like those previously excavated by Nate, the bone exposed so far belongs predominantly to young sheep. Not to mention, it seems, dog!
Meanwhile, up in the robber debris in the north-eastern corner, Phoenix recovered a remarkably well-preserved scapula. Given the poor bone preservation at the Ness it’s always nice to see animal remains arriving in the finds hut in good condition.
Not far away, Chris Gee’s journey to the centre of the earth was, thankfully, halted this afternoon when he reached the bottom of the construction cut for the insertion of the prone “skirting board” orthostats and stone cladding.
The cut, into which the orthostats and cladding were inserted, is about half-a-metre deep. It shows the sheer size of both and highlights something intriguing.
Why were prone orthostats of such as size selected for the job? Especially when only the uppermost 15cm (six inches) were visible above the floor level.
In the north-western corner, Ruby and Olivia have been cleaning back a section through the inner face of the outer wall, adjacent to a “skirting board” orthostat, that hasn’t been robbed out and is better preserved than much of the wall.
When their work is complete it will give us a much better idea of Twenty-Seven’s immaculate construction.
We’ll end our archaeological run-down of the day, with news that Trench J supervisor Paul’s 3d model of the outer face of the “Great Wall of Brodgar” has hit the top ten in the heritage section of the Sketchfab website.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Paul was out this afternoon cleaning the rest of the wall ahead of another photography session to create a model that includes the wall’s inner and outer faces – including the steps!
Watch this space. As soon as it’s ready, we’ll post it.
Bustling between the finds hut and dig HQ, Anne has also been finalising plans for this Sunday’s open day.
More details of this will be posted very soon.
In the meantime, remember that the site will be closed to the public on Friday, July 28, to give our team a well-earned day off before returning to site on Sunday.
We’ll be back tomorrow…