Dig Diary – Monday, July 29, 2019

Day Twenty-One

‘It’s just another manic Monday…’

It was all go inside Structure Ten today. (Sigurd Towrie)

Being a Monday, today is suitably manic. A large number of new recruits arrived on site this morning bright, eager, and in some cases suitably apprehensive, about what is to come.

They were all given a warm welcome and inducted into the mysteries of work on site and the absolute necessity of preserving life and limb while excavating the distant past.

Natalie from Galway and Tonia from UCL in Structure Ten, planning the context under the threshold stone. (Jo Bourne)

Many of them are the second group of University of the Highlands and Islands students to undertake practical training as part of their university course.

We also have numbers of students from other institutions, including University College London, an Irish university and a number of other colleges. Familiar old faces were also amongst the beginners and will add a leavening of experience.

In Structure Ten, Jo has been given a few extra hands to continue with the removal of the floor layers.

You may remember us mentioning the massive threshold stone from the entrance to Structure Ten.

This was gingerly levered and dragged from its original position a couple of weeks ago and, although there was nothing to see underneath, there is always the possibility that something interesting lurks further down.

The area under this stone will now be cleaned and then excavated carefully. We will tell you if anything turns up.

The eastern entrance to Structure Twelve, flanked by two stones, leading to a passage/cell and the putative standing stone. Work to remove the blocking and infill is progressing apace. (Sigurd Towrie)

Work continues in the fascinating area around the eastern entrance to Structure Twelve. This is a highly complex area with many different phases of building, re-building and blocking.

It now seems likely that the two standing stones which flank the entrance were enhanced by further large blocks of stone, some of which can now be seen to be decorated. The new standing stone discovered there is gradually emerging as the area around it is excavated.

Although the top of the stone has snapped off we have no idea yet how tall it will eventually be. Site director Nick expects it to be at least four feet tall and perhaps a bit more.

Removing the Iron Age infill at the top of Trench T this afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

In Trench T, Cristina has some of the new UHI students removing more of the fills of the Iron Age ditch.

Inside Structure Twenty-Seven, and after a good deal of discussion, a new area has been defined across the interior taking in suitable areas of orthostats and also of the possibly natural silting which is present.  

Aaron surrounded by later hearths in Structure Thirty-Two, a later addition on top of Structure Five. (Sigurd Towrie)

By later week this should give a better idea of the process of demolition of the building and what happened thereafter.

Trench J continues to be the place for all lovers of hearths as we now have possibly five of them.

Work on them has been halted for the moment because of the excellent news that Dr Cathy Batt of Bradford University will be coming to join us soon. She takes hearth samples for dating as well as supervising another site favourite, Sam Harris, who has worked here in the past and who is now finishing his doctorate.

It really looks as if this is going to be a week of exciting archaeology.

You will hear about all of it in the diary, so stay tuned…