Dig Diary – A timber building beneath Structure Five?
Monday, August 8, 2022
We’ll start today with one of our least favourite, but most frequent, subjects.
You’ve guessed – it’s the weather.
It is not our fault and it’s not by choice, but the sad fact is that the weather dominates much of what happens at the Ness. Either it is too dry and hot and people are dehydrated and hurting their wrists digging in rock-hard ground. An additional torment is flies and midges.
The alternative is when it is too wet and the trenches become slippy and dangerous with mud.
The latter happened today when a half-decent morning became very wet indeed. It was not that battering-down type of rain, but the sneaky sort which creeps up on you and only becomes really noticeable when you are sopping wet.
The sensible thing was to send the diggers home, but structure supervisors retired to their “cabin” and mountains of paperwork.
Some hardy souls persisted in the trenches.
Micromorphologist Dr Jo McKenzie extracted the last of her samples from Structure Eight and, happily, has managed to gather all that she needed before she departs later this evening.
In Trench T, the young folk from Willamette University were all ready to start their last week with some digging and a large amount of planning and section drawing.
The trench quickly became too slippy for safe working. But they will return tomorrow and there are high hopes that more of the handsome outer wall of Structure Twenty-Seven will be exposed.
There is considerable interest in Trench J, where Structure Five has yielded up another post-hole against the inner wall. That makes five in total and poses an immediate question as to whether Structure Five (remember, one of the first, if not the first, to be built) has a different architectural origin to the other buildings on site.
The others do not have large post-holes, so why does Structure Five have so many?
One suggestion being considered is the possibility that the post-holes initially may not be part of Structure Five but may, instead, be survivals from an even earlier timber building.
At the moment all we can say is that intensive post-excavation work will be undertaken in order to work out whether the presence of an earlier building is feasible.
We were delighted to be visited today by an old Ness friend and colleague, Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark, who is now a senior curator at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. We miss Hugo but are happy to see him in such an important and exciting post.
We are assured that the weather will be better tomorrow, so will see you then.