Dig Diary – Monday, August 20, 2018

Day Thirty-Six

Travis studies the uncovered remains of two 'new' buildings - Structure Thirty-Three (highlighted in red) and Thirty-Four (in blue).
Travis studies the uncovered remains of two ‘new’ buildings – Structure Thirty-Three (highlighted in red) and Thirty-Four (in blue).

Two new buildings and a possible Beaker shard

We must own up. There is a degree of lassitude around the site today, partly as a reaction to yesterday’s Open Day, when more than a thousand people visited the Ness site and the demonstrations and activities at the Stenness community centre.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we’re tired.

As a result, this diary will be shorter than normal, indeed if you blink you may miss it.

Beaker or not? Time will tell. The pot sherd from Structure Five.
Beaker or not? Time will tell. The pot sherd from Structure Five.

We do, however, have exciting news.

Site director Nick, possibly buckling under the last eight weeks of extreme activity, has abandoned the caution of a lifetime and given out two new structure numbers within minutes of each other.

Gasps of astonishment have been heard, but the new features seem well attested and the new structures will be called Structure Thirty-Three and Structure Thirty-Four.

The first structure might be contemporary with Structure Seventeen, which is under the south end of Structure Eight.

The second might be contemporary with Structure Eight itself.

Mike with the pot created by one of our artists in residence Diane from clay sourced from Trench Y.
Mike with the pot created by one of our artists in residence Diane from clay sourced from Trench Y.

Other news relates to a small sherd of pottery recovered from the Trench J extension, in a layer of midden lying on top of Structure Five.

It is a relatively fine sherd, fired hard and with incised lines, both straight and also forming a chevron.

It does not look like typical late Grooved Ware, indeed it is reminiscent of a sherd recovered from outside Structure Ten, which has been identified as Beaker.

Our problem is that so little Beaker pottery has been recovered in Orkney that it is only sensible to be cautious.

Complicating matters is the possibility that Beaker pottery in Orkney represents an Orcadian variant of the classical styles.

We are, therefore, not sure, but will do some research which might shed further light.

Mike has fired a very nice little pot using clay from Trench Y (where the wall is still missing) and it is illustrated here.

He would also like to ask those who attended his pottery workshop and who have left their fired pots here to collect them as soon as possible.

We’ll leave it at that…until tomorrow.


  • Please help keep the dig running - donate.