Dig Diary – Spatulate stone tool recovered from Structure Twenty-Seven
Monday, August 15, 2022
We have managed to escape the thunder and lightning which rattled parts of Orkney over the weekend but the rather eerie aftermath has been accentuated by the dwindling number of diggers on site.
This is, of course, the last week of the dig and many people have had to leave to go back to their day jobs or to finish university dissertations etc.
None of that applied to our visitors who appear to have heard that this will be the last week to see the Ness for another year.
In the morning well over a hundred people turned up for our 11am free tour. Such numbers are gratifying for us, and yet more indication of the huge popularity of the Ness as an essential place to visit.
However, in terms of showing people the site it verges on the impossible, so Roy and Sigurd split the hordes into two tours and hopefully managed to satisfy them all.
Please note that the last tours of the year will take place on Wednesday at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm.
In the trenches the remaining diggers were busy with planning and essential final record-keeping and cross checking, while, in the finds hut, Anne and her small and dedicated team were emptying finds trays, bagging dried finds, and moving artefacts and material to the house for further drying and temporary storage.
They have had a difficult time this year as the Ness has been, if not sopping wet, then decidedly moist and the drying of important and fragile material has not been easy.
The extent of another one of the very large slabs of stone was revealed that formed the stepped outer foundations for this beautiful wall.
The scale of some of these stepped foundation slabs is impressive with several of them exceeding two metres in length!
Work also started to remove a small, high area at the south end wall which had been left in for ease of access to the trench. In what should have been a fairly easy operation, it was, of course, nothing of the sort.
Another retaining wall of one of the scores of pits dug, presumably for the robbing of stone, appeared!
This has delayed matters but should be resolved by the end of the day after being carefully planned and photographed.
In the afternoon, Lewis gladdened stone specialist Gary’s heart by discovering the shaft of a polished stone spatula. This is the first to be discovered in association with Structure Twenty-Seven but several have already been found elsewhere, especially in Structure Eight.
This find may have significant importance for the dating of Structure Twenty-Seven, but more post-excavation work will be needed.
The Willamettes have gone, with the last of them travelling back to the United States over the weekend. Their professor, Scott Pike, is still with us for a few days and will be carrying out more work on his XRF samples (X-ray fluorescence is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials), and finally packing the samples which are to be sent back to Oregon for further processing.
We would like to remind everyone that the Ness exhibition at the Maeshowe visitor centre, in Stenness village, has been extended and will remain open until the end of the week.
We would also like to remind any able-bodied souls that we would love to have help to cover the site on Thursday and Friday of this week. Tyre throwing is obligatory and the lucky volunteers should dress in old clothes, waterproofs and stout boots and remember to bring a packed lunch.
An old friend visited us today and site director Nick hopes that it represents a good omen for the rest of the week.
It is, of course, the black swan of Harray, which has turned up on most recent years and is as handsome and glossy as ever. Nick hopes to capture a picture today, or possibly tomorrow, when we will see you all again.