Dig Diary – Structure Thirty-Nine is no more but Twenty is getting bigger
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Just a few days after it was given a name, Structure Thirty-Nine is no more!
On Monday, an apparent wall line running under Structure Ten’s south-western buttress was given the ultimate accolade – a number. But today, it seems we might have been a bit premature.
Further investigation has led to second thoughts. What initially appear to be building remains has turned out to be three stones in a line, which, we’re sure you’ll agree, doesn’t constitute a wall!
But to compensate, the outline of Structure Twenty, a definite predecessor of Ten, has not only become much clearer but is much bigger than expected.
When the sandbags were removed from Ten’s central hearth to reveal another stone face, Trench J supervisor Paul joined the dots.
We now have a potential end recess for Structure Twenty, which lined up with the corner buttress already noted in Ten’s paved north-western cell.
The result is what appears to have been quite a large piered building!
So although we lost one structure, we’ve gained a better understanding of another.
Much of the morning was taken up clearing out all but the most necessary sandbags and other detritus within Ten. This was to allow Scott to send his drone aloft and photograph the building (and its predecessor).
Nick, Anne, Rosalind and Mark undertook a grand site tour today, looking at potential locations to take more environmental DNA samples. We’re looking to collect another 100 samples, which, we hope, will indicate the species of plants and animals once present on site.
This trench is the remains of the (ultimately successful) prehistoric operation to remove the inner wall and large, prone orthostats from that side of the building.
Outside the north-western wall, Jackson, Elena and Michele continued recovering the animal bone deposit, which now appears to be in at least two layers.
Elsewhere work continued on the interior – clearing, planning and revealing more internal furniture features. All in all, it’s looking good. And Scott’s drone captured more photographs of the trench this morning.
We now have evidence of activity, under the primary floor, that pre-dates the construction of Five! Whether that relates to an earlier building remains to be seen.
Among the finds today were some nice sherds of pottery and a quartzite hammerstone, excavated by Andy in the northern extension.
Excavation around the central hearth has also revealed some puzzling voids underneath. There’s not much we can say about these yet, but work continues.
His decorated stone also came from the floors in the northern end of the building. Although not as well defined as Emma’s, the new stone also features decorated bands – at least two – one of which contains crosshatched designs.
Outside the eastern entrance, Sue has been excavating the drain underneath the passageway between Structures One and Nineteen. This was a job started by Sigurd earlier in the season before he was seconded to resume work in Structure Twelve.
The aim of the exploratory digs is to clarify the nature of the entrance. Was it, as has long been thought, punched through the building’s wall in its second phase? Or was it part of the original build?
The Structure Eight team were divided between hearth and floors again today.
In Eight, Rowan continued excavating the northern hearth, overlying Structure Eighteen, while the rest of the team continued work on Seventeen’s floors – excavating and planning.
And now we arrive back at Structure Twelve, where supervisor Jim waxed lyrically about lovely Neolithic buildings with simple, single-level floors built directly on the natural.
Dream on Jim. Structure Twelve is nothing like that.
To cut a long story short, sections of the building are no less confounding today than they were yesterday. Twelve just keeps throwing obstacles in our path.
Firstly, what we thought might be a pier belonging to Structure Twenty-Eight – one of Eight’s predecessors – yesterday, turned out not to be. Instead it’s another inexplicable section of walling that now doesn’t seem to relate to anything else.
Michaela’s sondage by the western central pier was opened because we hoped (foolishly?) that it would help clarify the relationship between Structures Twelve and Twenty-Eight. It’s done anything but. In fact, it’s opened up the proverbial can of worms!
We now not only have multiple layers of walling – still thought to represent Structures Twenty-Eight and its predecessor Twenty-Four – but a 70cm deep hole, disappearing down into the midden, and a large void lying directly beneath a stone slab (which, in turn, lies beneath Twelve’s clay floor).
What does the latter feature represent? It could be a couple of things.
Perhaps a drain capped with substantial slabs, akin to the one outside Structure One. Alternatively, it could be a section of wall – and it does line up with a raised ridge across the interior of Twelve – with an entrance feature.
There’s only one way we’re going to find out. Excavate.
Fortunately, however, it was not all head-scratching in Twelve because the layout of Structure Twenty-Eight is becoming clearer.
Not only has a small section of its clay floor appeared in Michaela’s sondage, but in Twelve’s north-western corner recess Nina has revealed what could be another wall face. Right where Jim predicted it would be!
She has also revealed the strange drain that runs under the blocking inserted into Twelve’s original, north-western entrance when it was sealed.
Why incorporate a drain there? Where did it run to?
Questions, always questions!
Our heads are buzzing, but we’ll be back tomorrow.