Dig Diary – Monday, August 14, 2017

Day Thirty-One

A building older than Structure Twenty-Seven?

Rain stops play in Structure Ten as the floors are recovered.

“Execrable” is such a good word.

It described last Friday’s weather perfectly, so what do we say about today? Execrable plus?

It really has been most unpleasant, and even more so for luring us in the first part of the morning into thinking all would be well.

By early afternoon things had just become impossible and the diggers departed, leaving supervisors to attend to their paperwork as the rain poured down.

The best part of the day was the earlier morning, which allowed some really interesting archaeology to take place.

In Trench T there was an exciting new development.

To go back a step, on Friday, during a site tour for the diggers, sharp-eyed Hugo noticed that the stones forming an external corner of Structure Twenty-Seven had been partially peck-dressed.

They are fine stones to begin with, but the pecking process refined them further, removing imperfections and making a lovely rounded corner.

Despite the weather Alette continues zapping small finds locations, aided by Peter.

Just a couple of metres away, in the south-west corner of the trench, Martin was working behind the large orthostat standing there.

As he excavated, the orthostat went deeper and deeper and, as of now, we are unsure exactly how big it is.

Behind it there are now several courses of walling. This is at a lower level than Structure Twenty-Seven so, do we have an even older building?

Frustratingly, it disappears into the trench section so only the opening of an extension can answer that question, and site director Nick would not contemplate anything like that with just a couple of weeks left of this excavation season.

Elsewhere, the questions continued to appear.

Outside the south-west corner of Structure Twelve, Natasha had uncovered what appeared to be a drain.

This morning it refused to behave and turned, instead, into a large rubble-filled pit which may be lined. What is it?

Natasha defines the curious pit just outside the south-west wall of Structure Twelve.

Could it predate Structure Twelve, and could it be covered over originally by the paving which probably runs right round the building, and which is certainly evident outside the southern end?

In the area just outside the newly unblocked northern entrance (the only entrance) to Structure Eight, Chris has uncovered more wall lines which may relate to an earlier building under Structure Eight — the long anticipated Structure Eighteen.

It had been thought that this would have a form similar to Structure Five in Trench J, but now looks more like a smaller version of one of the piered buildings on site.

Most surprisingly, adjacent to the wall lines, emerging from the entrance area, Chris has now uncovered a large, broken slab, seemingly part of the infill/collapse of this structure, and with a perfect large hole created through it.

In Structure Ten, Sam and his Cotswold Archaeology colleague, Liz, have been excavating the delicate floor layers, but the onset of rain brought that task to an immediate halt. The black plastic was hastily pulled over and work stopped for the day.

The holed slab presumably associated with Structure Eighteen under the north end of Structure Eight.

Our survey team of Mark and Alette continued zapping the position of numerous finds, and, in Trench J, Hugo busied himself incorporating the context sheets for the first excavation of the structure with the new ones from this year.

He has poached Giles from the task of helping with the removal of the curving wall in Structure One in order to do some planning (drawing elements of the building on through a horizontal planning frame)

Giles, a long-time regular at the Ness, is an excellent planner and is perfect for this task as he also has an enduring interest in Early Neolithic houses.

It is hard to believe, but the weather forecast for the rest of the week is perfectly reasonable.

With congratulations and gratitude to the many visitors today who stuck it out on tours today through the execrable plus weather, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Also please note that this Sunday marks our second (and last) Open Day of the season — check out more details on https://www.facebook.com/FriendsNessBrodgar/

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