Dig Diary – A day of discoveries!
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
It has been a day of starkly changeable weather.
We endured a damp start. Followed by sunshine and then rain again. Accompanying this was the wind.
While a halt to excavation had to be called around noon, and the diggers ran for cover, the stalwart visitors on Sigurd’s morning site tour had no such luxury. Through gritted teeth, however, they soldiered on in the face of driving rain and gales. To these people, we salute you.
The conditions in the trenches were the reason excavation was put on a temporary hold – wet midden and stones are extremely slippy and conditions underfoot were rapidly getting hazardous to both the diggers and the archaeology.
Fortunately, however, the afternoon was a huge improvement and work resumed unhindered.
And what a day it’s been, with discoveries across the site.
Sigurd was investigating a potential drain running along the structure’s inner wall, when the beautiful little pot appeared mere millimetres below the surface of a recess in the building.
We’ve had these tiny pots before – particularly in the area around Structure One. The latest example was complete and discolouration within might represent residue which can be analysed to see what it once held. Whatever it was, it wasn’t much.
Oh, and the drain wasn’t a drain…
But the thumb pot was eclipsed by a discovery later in the day in the western end of Structure Five. There, Sara and Sarah were investigating a depression in the floor near the building’s blocked south-western entrance.
The shallow pit was covered by a cracked flagstone. There was great excitement when the cover was removed and, in the depression, there appeared to be a stone ball.
The object was carefully recovered and cleaned and actually turned out to be a very nicely shaped stone tool. Described by Gary, our stone tools aficionado, as a Neolithic “Swiss army knife” – it had been used as a hammer stone, an anvil and perhaps also for polishing or rubbing.
It is very similar to an artefact found in Structure One in 2012, and will undoubtedly form part of Gary’s ongoing research into cobblestone tools.
Meanwhile, in Structure Five’s north-eastern section work to remove some of the floor levels was the topic of discussion. Before this can begin our micromorphologist Jo McKenzie will move in and remove samples for analysis.
Over in Structure One work on the secondary phase orthostats continued. The central stone, which was inserted into the building’s primary hearth when One was remodelled and reduced in size, is looking ready to be removed.
This will allow excavation of Structure One’s primary floor levels to get under way.
Work to clear away the last of the levelling areas (the material spread over the remains of Seventeen and Eighteen before the construction of Eight) has continued. This has revealed more of the outer wall of Structure Eighteen and the beautiful paving between the two early buildings.
Work inside Eight also produced what appears to be a canine leg bone. This will need to be double checked by our zooarchaeologist colleagues, but if it does turn out to belong to a dog, it will complement the teeth found elsewhere on site.
In Structure Ten, it was nice to see (and hear) the return of Lisa for the last few weeks of excavation. She quickly fitted back into the Structure Ten team and is working on the north side of the internal area, which is defined by robbed-out orthostats and midden material relating to early activity in the building.
It now seems that the robbing of stone from Structure Twenty-Seven at the end of its life occurred in a series of separate episodes rather than a single planned event.
The removal of stone during these incursions can, in no way, be described as systematic – as was clearly the case in Structure Twelve. Instead it seems the robbers just waded in and tore the prized stone out.
Another similarity between the architecture of Twenty-Seven and Structure Ten was noted today. Ten is surrounded by a paved passageway, which itself was enclosed by a wall.
At Structure Twenty-Seven, the removal of robbing debris from the paved drain covering on the building’s south-eastern side revealed what appears to be a low wall.
The wall sits at the edge of the paving and perhaps, like the Structure Ten example, not only defined it but held back the midden deposits surrounding the building.
We’ll leave it there for now but will return with more news from the site tomorrow.
See you then.