Dig Diary – glorious sunshine, tyres and trench covers…

Moving tyres from Trench P.  (📷 Jo Bourne)
Moving tyres from Trench P. (📷 Jo Bourne)

Day One
Monday, June 24, 2024

Back again! It’s honestly hard to grasp that just ten months ago we were putting the covers back on – for the last time! As the saying goes, time flies, and here we are again ready and raring to go.

2024 is momentous year. As I’m sure you’ll all already know, it is the final year of fieldwork. At the end of this season, the fragile archaeology will be returned to the earth and the conditions that protected it for 5,000 years.

So if you’ve not seen it yet, do come along and see this spectacular archaeological site.

Diggers and volunteers gather on site this morning.  (📷 Sigurd Towrie)
Diggers and volunteers gather on site this morning. (📷 Sigurd Towrie)

Day one followed the time-honoured pattern. The team assembled on site and greeted Ness colleagues they’d not seen in months – or sometimes years. Despite the arduous task that lay ahead – removing thousands of rainwater-filled tyres, sandbags and covers from all three trenches – it didn’t seem to dampen spirits.

The dig team were aided this year by a large group of hardy volunteers who had answered our earlier pleas for help.

And so it began. The slow and steady uncovering of the trenches…

After many weeks of winter-like temperatures, we were bathed in sunshine today – and baked by it! The temperature (according to my car) was 28 degrees C. Not a figure you’ll see on an Orkney weather map often!

With plenty of breaks to rest and re-hydrate the team soldiered on and by the time we closed this afternoon, Trenches T and J were completely uncovered and a good start made to removing the tyres in Trench P.

Uncovering gets under way in Trench T.  (📷 Jo Bourne)
Uncovering gets under way in Trench J. (📷 Jo Bourne)
And the first of the Trench T covers is removed. (📷 Jo Bourne)
Diggers and volunteers remove the last of the tyres from Trench T. (📷 Tom O’Brien)

Conditions are forecast to be more Orkney-like tomorrow, which will come as a relief to many.

Site director Nick was delighted with the day’s progress and grateful for the hard work of everyone on site. Tomorrow should see the last of the tyres removed from Trench P and its covers coming off.

Then the work to tidy and clean the trenches will begin, after which excavation will resume in most areas.

Wednesday is the first day we are open to the public and we start the daily site tours (11am, 1pm and 3pm), so we look forward to seeing you then.

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