Dig Diary – Monday, August 7, 2017

Day Twenty-Six

Water, water everywhere

Sarah readies herself for immersion in the Loch of Stenness . . .

It was supposed to rain this morning, so site director Nick kept the diggers away on the expectation that the rain would go away after lunch.

As Emma points out below, exactly the opposite happened. The morning was fine, even sunny, and, at 1.30pm, the rain came down in torrents.

All credit to the many visitors who crowded on to tours and stayed, to a man, woman, child (and dog) to hear the latest information on the Ness.

However, the rain became so heavy that further digging was impossible, so the diggers who had just arrived were almost immediately redundant.

Probably the luckiest person was our Willamette, Sarah, who is carrying out an investigation of anomalies on the bed of Stenness Loch, near to the Ness.

There is a suggestion that some of the stone for the Ness buildings may have been quarried there, so Sarah donned a wet-suit and dipped into the loch, while still managing to remain the driest member of staff on site.

She was monitored by several volunteers and is using some of the subsea survey data already gathered by the Rising Tides team under Caroline Wickham-Jones and Richard Bates.

. . . followed by Chris Gee, with GPS, along the shore.

Hopefully, more of the results in due course.

However Chris Gee, who was also assisting with survey from the shore, lived up to his reputation by discovering a rather fine hammerstone sitting on the shore.

Over in Structure One, Giles has been helping to dismantle the Phase Two wall which bisects the building.

Today was his first day, and he made a significant find.

Within the wall, he uncovered a complex pot rim, which is very reminiscent of the “skeuomorph” vessel from Structure Ten.

It is a handsome example of what might be viewed as an eyehole and tying cord at the top of a leather bag. That is one interpretation, and others might be just as valid.

Tomorrow, we hope for better weather, at least that is what the weather reports are suggesting.

Do we believe them?

Until tomorrow.

From the Trenches

Hi, my name’s Emma and I’ve been charged with writing the blog today.

Chris’s discovery of a hammerstone on the loch shore.

I’ve been digging at the Ness for the last four years and somehow, so far, have escaped Nick’s clutches in being asked to contribute to the blog — but not today!

In return for me stealing some of the house wifi for a masters interview I have tomorrow (wish me luck!), I have begrudgingly agreed to write something.

So far, I’ve been on site for a week, working in the wonderful Structure Eight.

Over Thursday and Friday, we set about unblocking the entrance to the structure, and though we didn’t find the hoard of carved stone balls we were hoping for, being one of the first people to cross the threshold of the structure in c.5000 years was pretty incredible!

The decorated pot found in Structure One by Giles today.

I also found my first piece of incised stone hidden away in the blocking, a rather unremarkable single incised line, but very exciting nonetheless.

Today has been a rather slow sort of day.

The weather this morning led to the dig being postponed, however it brightened up as soon as the call was made.

People have been trickling to site over the course of the morning and at around 1.30pm we had the full cohort back with us, which is, of course, when the rain started again!

At the minute we’re cleaning Structure Eight, ready to take up some of the last floors, and rain mixed with slippery clay and muddy feet makes this almost impossible, so hopefully it clears up again soon.

The rain didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the team as some shelter in the tool shed.

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