Dig Diary – incised stone, post-holes, pottery and bones
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
The weather (yes, the weather again) played a major part in Ness operations this morning. After a bright start it rained heavily, and Trench T, in particular, became wet and slippy and basically unsafe for excavation.
The Willamette University diggers there were taken out of the trench and Sigurd drove them on an educational tour of other sites such as Cuween, the Barnhouse settlement and the Stones of Stenness to help them understand the wider context of the Ness.
By lunchtime the trench had dried out and was workable once more. Efforts focused on removing more of the remaining demolition rubble from the exterior of Structure Twenty-Seven, thus allowing time for the interior to dry further.
At the south-eastern side of the building the diggers came down on more of the beautifully constructed drain and within the robbing debris of the south end wall Tony came upon a large piece of thin pot.
Various workers and specialists consulted and took turns at removing it safely but, when last seen, it was still in the ground and obviously in very poor condition. It was certainly in association with degraded bone, and may even have held bone, but when it is removed and has dried we will tell you more.
In Trench J, Sara finished excavating what is undoubtedly one of the nicest post-holes we have seen on site!
It has a flat stone base and beautifully constructed sides. It has probably seen two phases of use and was then sealed by the secondary flooring and a covering flagstone within which was the interesting stone tool we told you about yesterday.
Particularly interesting is its position on one side of the original entrance to Structure Five. On the other side of the entrance we are now finding signs of a matching large post-hole, so it seems that that entrance was flanked internally by two large wooden posts, which would have helped support the roof, but which would also have looked very imposing.
In the northern half of the later addition to Structure Five, micromorphologist Jo and supervisor Paul have been consulting on where Jo should take her samples.
A decision was reached and Jo is now taking her samples and is pleased with them as they show that the oddly-shaped hearth around which she is working has a great sequence of intricate flooring and occupational deposits around it – as good as those from any of the other structures.
In the extension to Trench J, the UHI Archaeology Institute students have been removing the last vestiges of the two late hearths and also removing more rubble to reveal more of the Great Wall of Brodgar’s inner face and the strange step-like elements in the wall.
In Structure One, work continues on the two remaining orthostats and their construction slots and, with luck and good weather, both will be removed by Friday. A tricky task especially considering the central one was inserted into one of Structure One’s primary hearths. Great care will be needed to minimise the disturbance of the ashy hearth deposits.
At the south end of Structure Eight, Ray is removing some of the packing stones for the orthostat, which defined the building’s south end recess. Nearby, Sue is exploring the area around an intricately decorated stone, which we hope to lift tomorrow.
In Structure Ten, Kaehlin continues her investigations of the orthostatic dresser-like arrangement along the west wall, while Michaela is looking at a possible extension to the walling which defined the northern recess.
Mark and Jan have also finished their tasks along the south wall removing the last of the packing in the construction slot of a large, robbed-out orthostat before Jan was seconded to help with work on the emerging pottery vessel in Structure Twenty-Seven.
It has been a busy day. Wet, dry and often confusing but ultimately enjoyable.
We will hope for more of the same – tomorrow.