Dig Diary – Thwarted by rain but a few nice pottery discoveries
Friday, August 11, 2023
It’s an early diary today because we’ve pretty much been rained out of the trenches.
After baking in temperatures of around 22c yesterday, Friday dawned with thunder, lightning, torrential rain and, I’m told, hailstones!
Arriving on site this morning, however, the Ness of Brodgar was nestled in a blue-skied oasis of sunshine, while it rained everywhere else!
Needless to say that didn’t last. When the rain came it arrived in style and before long conditions were such that work in the trenches became impossible.
Not only was it dangerous for the diggers but also the archaeology. You don’t want to trek three inches of a floor surface out on your boots overtime you leave the trench.
So here we are. Some work was able to continue, however, with a few very interesting finds.
Near the “pit of despair” beside Structure Twelve’s west, central pier, Louise found an intriguing pottery sherd. It had a rounded profile and appeared to have an organic temper.
Based on preliminary examination by our ceramics specialists, we may have another example of an early carinated bowl. However, it will need to dry out and be cleaned before we can say for sure what it represents.
Sticking with pottery, you’ll recall the beautiful sherd of decorated Grooved Ware that came from Structure One on Tuesday. The sherd features a delicate, double-circle decoration.
It has now dried out and examined by pottery specialist Jan, who has confirmed it is our only example featuring this style of decoration.
The circles are so perfect, they must have been impressed into the wet clay with a circular tool – perhaps a fragment of hollow bird bone.
The poor weather and a site-wide ban from entering wet trenches saw a steady stream of diggers updated on PhD candidate Julia Becher’s project to analyse lipid residues from pottery at the Ness.
It was a fascinating talk but, unfortunately, we can’t tell you much about the results yet. But as soon as we can, we will.
Finds supervisor Anne took shelter from the deluge in dig HQ, where she spent most of her day sorting and vacuum-packing the timber samples that have been recovered over the past few weeks.
We’ve gone from having just a few to having 50 in just a few days!
The plank in Structure Twenty-Seven was not lifted today, due to the weather conditions, but we hope that delicate operation will resume next week.
There’s also some building news from Structure Thirty, where an inner wall was confirmed by Tony and Lewis. The wall, however, appears to have been robbed-out at some point in prehistory.
The dreadful rain today was a pest for us diggers but spare a thought for our dedicated meet-and-greeters, who stood valiantly welcoming hardy visitors to the site. Well done you lot and thank you.
If you are planning a visit, remember that Wednesday is the last day the dig is open to the public. After that the task of covering the buildings begins.
Remember too that we have our fundraising on-site shop. Running it this year is Emma, who has travelled to Orkney from Mull to work at the Ness.
It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of Ness-related and archaeological goodies – the sale of which helps boost funds, not just for the Ness project but others in Orkney.
The sun is beginning to peek out of the clouds at last, so we’ll leave it at that.
See you Monday.