Dig Diary – Another piered building east of Structure One?

A cup-marked and incised stone in the south-western wall of Structure Eight. Although spotted and recorded by Dr Antonia Thomas some time ago, it stood out in today's late afternoon sunshine. (📷 Sigurd Towrie)

A cup-marked and incised stone in the south-western wall of Structure Eight. Although spotted and recorded by Dr Antonia Thomas some time ago, it stood out in today’s late afternoon sunshine. (Sigurd Towrie)

Day Eight
Wednesday, July 13, 2022

When a big yellow bucket is rumbling towards you propelled by a vicious horizontal wind, you know it is time to review options.

That’s what happened this morning at the Ness because, for once, the predictions of dire weather from the experts proved to be only too accurate.

Although the safest place was to be tucked down in a trench, with the wind whistling above your head, the danger of flying equipment, and even of being blown over, was proving just too much for the security of the diggers.

Accordingly, with a heavy heart, site director Nick called a halt around midday and the diggers went home, wind-battered and disappointed.

Alice photographing an orthostat next to the opening into the 'mega-drain' in Structure Thirty-Four. (Jo Bourne)

Alice photographing an orthostat next to the opening into the ‘mega-drain’ in Structure Thirty-Four. (Jo Bourne)

Alette cleaning between the orthostatic boxes in Structure Thirty-Four. (Jo Bourne)

Alette cleaning between the orthostatic boxes in Structure Thirty-Four. (Jo Bourne)

Ray peers into the opening leading to the trench-spanning drain. (Jo Bourne)

Ray peers into the opening leading to the trench-spanning drain. (Jo Bourne)

Charlie has extended his exploratory trench to investigate the floor in Structure Twenty-Seven. (Sigurd Towrie)

Charlie has extended his exploratory trench to investigate the floor in Structure Twenty-Seven. (Sigurd Towrie)

Left behind were the structure supervisors who always have lots of paperwork and heavy-duty thinking to do.

They retreated to their own portacabin and could be glimpsed through the open door, masked against Covid, and scribbling furiously in their notebooks and on their plans.

None of the above deterred the hordes of intrepid visitors who are only too keen to see the site and all its wonders. We are delighted to welcome them for our three free weekday tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

They huddled together and enjoyed the tours and, as always, had plenty of well-informed and searching questions.

Nick points out that we are continuing with our small-group tours which must be booked in advance. Full details of these can be found here.

We have further news of the large piece of worked whalebone which was carefully excavated by Paul and Ralph in Trench J on Monday.

The whalebone artefact in Structure Thirty-Two on Monday afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

The whalebone artefact in Structure Thirty-Two on Monday afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

It was lifted successfully and transferred to another location where it is being cosseted by finds supervisor Anne who is taking care to ensure that it is maintained in a moist and dark environment until it can be sent south for conservation.

In case you’ve not had a look at Paul’s 3d model of the artefact, it’s available here.

In the afternoon Nick, Paul and Sigurd put their heads together to look at some of the questions which have emerged from all the post-excavation work carried out over the winter.

Many of these relate to the refinement of the site matrix, the hugely complicated setting down of all the site contexts and their relationship to each other. Very few people fully understand these documents and those who do are likely to suffer from severe stress headaches!

But progress is being made with, for instance, queries over the relationship between Structures One and Twenty-One and aspects of One’s secondary remodelling were clarified late this afternoon.

The section outside Structure One's western wall showing the original wall face (red) and the path of the wall added in the building's second phase. (Sigurd Towrie)

The section outside Structure One’s western wall showing the original wall face (red) and the path of the wall added in the building’s second phase. (Sigurd Towrie)

The discovery of Structure One’s original western wall in a section between it and Structure Twenty-One suggests it was robbed when the building was reduced in size in its second phase, when a curved wall was inserted across the interior.

To accommodate this addition, a new section of western wall was constructed and (rather scrappily) tied into the original wall line.

Structures Eleven and Nineteen during the third major phase of activity within Trench P.

The location of Structure Nineteen in relation to the other buildings in Trench P.p

There was also discussion about the possible presence of an earlier piered structure contemporary with, amongst others, Structures Seventeen and Eighteen.

This may be present under Structure Nineteen (between Structures One and Eight), and which incorporates and reuses several elements of the earlier building.

We will keep you up to date on that in future diaries.

In the finds hut the team are dealing with new finds coming in from the trenches.

Presently these are not as plentiful as usual due to the inclement weather and limited excavation, but this is allowing the team time to also deal with the arduous task of repacking, creating new inventories, and re-boxing some of the finds from the earlier years.

We are assured that the weather will be better tomorrow, and that excavation can resume across the site.

We will live in hope and see you tomorrow.

The paved passageway between Structures One and Nineteen this afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

The paved passageway between Structures One and Nineteen this afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

Where Structure Nineteen meets Eight. (Sigurd Towrie)

Where Structure Nineteen meets Eight. (Sigurd Towrie)

The pillar-like orthostats flanking Structure Nineteen's entrance. (Sigurd Towrie)

The pillar-like orthostats flanking Structure Nineteen’s entrance. (Sigurd Towrie)

You may also like...