Dig Diary – Friday, August 10, 2018

Day Thirty

Fabrizio with the uncovered stone arrangement at the southern entrance to Structure One.

An international affair…

Fabrizio clearing the primary floor deposits at Structure One’s southern entrance…

One of the factors which makes studying archaeology with the University of the Highlands and Islands in Orkney such an enjoyable affair is the presence of students from all over the world.

At the moment, Structure One is benefitting from the efforts of Fabrizio and Alessandro, two students from Italy who are taking Masters Degrees with UHI.

They have been busy removing the primary floor deposits from the south entrance and have been doing a tremendous job.

They have carefully uncovered a lovely flagstone which has been exactly placed between the orthostatic threshold stones.

…aided by Alessandro.

This arrangement of stones makes what almost appears to be a box-like structure with raised edges, which conjures up the unfortunate image of Neolithic people regularly stubbing their toes as they enter Structure One.

Even with sore toes they would have had compensations inside Structure One because it is the home to a good number of excellent decorated stones.

Our stone art expert, Dr Antonia Thomas, has carried out intensive work in the building and we now have another two examples of decorated stones in Fabrizio and Alessandro’s entrance area.

At the north end of Structure One the work of laying out the floor grid has just been completed and sampling of these primary floor areas will now take place.

It is careful work, which cannot be hurried and there is, as always, a good deal of paperwork associated with it.

The pot sherd from Trench J.
The pot sherd from Trench J.

Trench J has produced an interesting pot rim from levels associated with the post-demolition of Structure Five.

There is some debate surrounding this sherd as the fabric resembles that of typical rock-tempered Grooved Ware, but the curve of what can be seen of the pot wall might suggest an earlier vessel, perhaps with a round bottom.

This will be discussed long and hard and we will let you know the answer.

In the passage around Structure Ten, on the west side, the team have now removed all of the passage infill and the flagstone base can now be seen clearly.

In Trench T, the work of removing the midden which lies over Structure Twenty-Seven is proceeding with remarkable speed and more of this enigmatic structure is beginning to emerge.

Mission accomplished - the western passageway around Structure Ten has been completely cleared of midden.
Mission accomplished – the western passageway around Structure Ten has been completely cleared of midden.

This raises high hopes that a very good idea of the outline of the building may be confirmed soon.

Site director Nick is hoping for the appearance of more orthostats, but so far they have proved elusive.

Further lengths of the wall have been uncovered, unfortunately showing that more stone robbing has taken place.

In a sense this is hardly surprising for the stone in the external wall faces of Structure Twenty-Seven is a magnificent example of crafted stone.

It would have graced any building, ancient or modern, and is of an even higher quality than the stone in the main buildings in Trench P.

For this reason it would have been an absolute magnet for ancient stone robbers and it is likely that much of it may be built into the finest buildings in Trench P.

While a delight to work in, the bright sunlight makes photographic recording difficult. So the Structure Ten crew had to resort to some shade creation.
While a delight to work in, the bright sunlight makes photographic recording difficult. So the Structure Ten crew had to resort to some shade creation.

We are delighted today to welcome an old friend and colleague of the Ness for a short visit.

Dr Cathy Batt, from the University of Bradford, is a world expert on archaeomagnetic dating and she is here on a flying visit with her son as assistant to take some more archaeomagnetic samples.

This will complement the work of her student, Sam Harris, who couldn’t visit as he is writing up his PhD thesis at the moment on the significant potential of archaeomagnetic dating.

Cathy will only be here for a couple of days but the collaborative work between her and the Ness will continue.

Sadly, today sees the departure of a number of the team, including the last of our own UHI students and other volunteers.

Nick wishes to thank them all hugely and we hope to see them back in the future.

It’s the weekend now.

Phew! We’ll see you all on Monday.


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