Structure Thirty-Two

Structure Thirty-Two this afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

Structure Thirty-Two in August 2021. (Sigurd Towrie)

Structure Thirty-Two was first encountered in 2018, in the southern end of Trench J.

Initially, we thought the building was a later addition to Structure Five – something akin to the curved wall inserted into Structure One at the start of its second phase – that related to the re-use of its south-western section.

We now know, however, that it was separate building erected on top of the remains of Structure Five’s collapsed southern end and incorporating its predecessor’s south-western end into its construction. So far, only Structure Thirty-Two’s curved northern wall has been exposed.

The elusive Structure Thirty-Two - a curved wall section sitting on top of Structure Five. (Sigurd Towrie)

The elusive Structure Thirty-Two – a curved wall section sitting on top of Structure Five. (Sigurd Towrie)

Geophysical survey in 2021 suggested that this wall – which was probably built from stone robbed from Structure Five’s interior – continues curving outwards beyond the trench edge. The survey results hinted that the wall turned back on itself, revealing the outline of an oval building with the vestiges of what may be a structural pier.

This suggested that Structure Thirty-Two was very similar to other smaller piered buildings on site, including Structures Seventeen, Eighteen and Twenty-Eight.

Excavation confirmed there was a wall moving out of the trench in a westward direction – but it didn’t line up with the existing wall of Thirty-Two. It did, however, line up with a similarly poorly built wall uncovered in Trench M in 2008, suggesting it was unrelated to Thirty-Two, but part of a later, ephemeral structure.

The narrow, north-north-east facing entrance to Structure Thirty-Two. (Sigurd Towrie)

The narrow, north-north-east facing entrance to Structure Thirty-Two. (Sigurd Towrie)

Back in Thirty-Two, a poorly built entrance was found to the west of its curving northern wall. West of the entrance was a large quernstone, bringing to mind the large quernstone/basin incorporated into the west side of the annex constructed outside Structure Twelve’s eastern entrance.

Inside Thirty-Two were several ashy layers and a rich, black floor deposit may represent the remnants of a small peat stack that once stood on site. Pottery sherds, animal remains and an incised decorated stone were also recovered.

Other than being able to say it is later than Structure Five, we do not yet have a date for the construction and use of Structure Thirty-Two. We can say, however, that it was not the last construction in the area.

Many questions surrounding Structure Thirty-Two and its relationship to Structure Five remain.

Only further excavation can answer these.

Chris and Ceiridwen in Structure Thirty-Two following the discovery of a pottery depost. (Sigurd Towrie)

Chris and Ceiridwen in Structure Thirty-Two following the discovery of a pottery spread. (Sigurd Towrie)