Dig Diary – Another deposit of wood, this time around Structure Twenty
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
That’s the end of another busy day on site as we reach the final stages of the 2023 excavation season.
The planning, paperwork and section drawing continued but so did the revelations!
It doesn’t appear to be as well preserved as the wood that has been coming from Structure Twenty-Seven, so the plan is to remove a block of the material containing the timber and get that into dig HQ for microscopic analysis.
We had all but given up on expecting interesting things to appear beneath building thresholds. The tension mounts, the threshold stone, or material, is removed and…nothing.
But that wasn’t the case with Structure Eight today, where Kristina has revealed a deposit of animal bone in an pit inside the building’s northern entrance.
The bone identified so far belonged to a lamb and cattle. It is in reasonable condition so Kristina will continue her excavation and recover all the material for further examination.
And that’s not all – a huge quantity of animal bone – again cattle, sheep and some pig – is emerging from midden and rubble adjacent to, but beneath, Structure Twenty-Seven’s north-western paving.
The bone is being carefully excavated by Michele and Sarah and, again, is in a reasonably good state of preservation. What’s going on? Is it just part of a midden dump? It’s early days yet so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Eaerlier in the day, in the same area, Sarah found what appears to be a fragment of an unfinished spatulate tool.
It is clear that considerable work has gone into fashioning the bowl of the stone tool, although it is nowhere near as refined as the examples found in Structure Eight.
Meanwhile, over in Structure One, the question of earlier buildings has reared its head again.
Because One has not suffered from the subsidence problems evident in some of its neighbours, we have long wondered whether, or not, it was constructed on top of an earlier building.
Today some rather large stones appeared beneath the Structure One, in the sondage in the northern end.
Could these relate to an earlier wall?
Given the restricted width of the sondage not enough of the potential wall has been exposed. If the stones do relate to a wall, it is remains difficult to see how it relates to other features in and around One, particularly a substantial drain to its north-west.
It’s doubtful we’ll be able to resolve this question this year, but is something we’ll revisit, with interest, in 2024.
A task that was completed today was the gathering of environmental DNA samples from all trenches. Rosalind and Sue have secured hundreds from floor surfaces, midden sections, drains and hearths, which will now go to be analysed.
We are being assisted in the project by the international Sea Change project, and, in particular, Dr Jen Harland from the UHI Archaeology Institute.
The analysis will show us the flora and fauna once present on site that are not necessarily represented in the other surviving evidence.
Tomorrow is the last day the site will be open to the public – so if you’ve not made it along yet, we look forward to seeing you then…