Back on site and ready for some serious archaeology
Dig Diary – Day One
Monday, June 28, 2021
After two, long and frustrating years life has returned to the Ness of Brodgar.
The sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing and the team are working hard to remove the tyres and black plastic which has kept the site cosy and safe through the winter storms.
This is an arduous and often dirty task, and site director Nick wants to thank the team and volunteers, including the hard-working lads from Highland Park Distillery in Kirkwall.
It’s not going to be the same as in previous years. We simply cannot have the hundred plus excavators we are used to as that would be impossible with the current Covid regulations.
We have, instead a solid core of seasoned archaeologists and supervisors with a few experienced volunteers, all of them desperate to re-acquaint themselves with this most remarkable of archaeological sites.
Neither will we able to give the site tours which have been such an important feature of recent years.
Site director Nick has had to think long and hard about how to accommodate visitors. We have a duty to share our discoveries at the Ness with both local people and visitors, and it has been a delight to see the thousands of folk who have thronged the site in previous years.
We expect many this year, and they will be able to see everything taking place as they walk round a one-way system which will pass all of the structures which will be uncovered this year. We will open to visitors on Wednesday, June 30.
In Trench J, we hope to understand the phases of Structure Five, most likely one of the earliest buildings, and of Structure Thirty-Two, the later piered building which overlies it. The team will look closely at the floor deposits and, importantly, the relationship between Structure Five and the massive boundary wall which partly surrounds it.
In Structures Ten and Twelve the focus will again be on the floors. These will be extensively sampled and that process will shed new light on the manner in which different areas of the buildings were used, and how that changed through time.
We are, therefore, all set for a magnificent excavation. It is, as Nick acknowledges, slightly strange to be back digging.
As regular followers of the Ness will know, the lack of excavation over the past long months has not meant that the team in Orkney have been idle. We have produced our handsome interim volume, a significant undertaking, which has been selling like the proverbial hot cakes.
The Ness of Brodgar; As It Stands will be available at the site shop along with many other interesting items, and all proceeds will go towards funding this and future explorations of the Ness.
Post-excavation work has also carried on almost without interruption through past months, again through careful Covid-related planning.
And so, with the coverings removed, we will be cleaning and tidying the site on Tuesday ready for visitors and for some serious archaeology in coming days.
We will keep you informed about everything which happens through our Daily Diary.
See you all tomorrow.