Dig Diary – Thursday, August 15, 2019

Day Thirty-Four

Paperwork, plans and finds

Jo planning Structure Eight. (Sigurd Towrie)

With just days to go until the 2019 excavation draws to a close, the site was abuzz with activity today.

Needless to say, with an excavation as complex as the Ness much of this involved paperwork, but there was still considerable excavation activity going on in the trenches.

Not to mention visitors aplenty.

In Structure Twelve, Hannah and Linda soldiered on with the task of planning the interior.

As we said yesterday, this is (literally) a back-breaking task but the results – even in these days of electronic recording, photography and 3D models are always worth it.

Linda planning inside Structure Twelve while Claire investigates the cell outside the eastern entrance. (Sigurd Towrie)

A well-produced, hand-drawn plan is a marvel to behold and always testimony to the skill, patience and core-strength (at least that’s what I think it’s called) of the planner.

Outside the building, in particular the eastern entrance, we are now certain that what we have beyond the two standing stones at the doorway is a cell rather than a passage.

Even more interesting is the fact that this cell appears to have been carefully subdivided into a number of “chambers”.

We should hopefully have some more details of this before excavation halts next Wednesday. Watch this space.

Structure Eight was subjected to another fast and furious cleaning session today ahead of further aerial photography and 3D modelling.

A curving wall face of Structure Seventeen visible within Structure Eight. (Sigurd Towrie)

As a result, the visible evidence of its two underlying predecessors – Structures Seventeen and Eighteen – became clearer.

The new aerial imagery and models will help immensely in the interpretation of the period when these two structures were incorporated into the fabric of Structure Eight.

But it was Trench J that was the real star of the site today, with revelations about Structure Five accompanying finds throughout.

Aaron excavating the Structure Thirty-Two flint cache this afternoon. (Sigurd Towrie)

We knew that Structure Five, which, may be as early as 3500BC, is the earliest building uncovered on site to date, had suffered a collapse of the central area at some point in its history.

As the Trench J team work down through this layer of rubble some intriguing facts are emerging.

Evidence of Structure Thirty-Two, the later building overlying the southern end of Structure Five has been visible since last year as a curving wall.

Excavation under way inside and outside Structure Thirty-Two. (Sigurd Towrie)

It is now clear that Structure Thirty-Two was built directly on top of the collapsed central area of Structure Five.

The outer face of Thirty-Two’s exterior wall has now been exposed almost to its base and it seems that it was inserted on top of the rubble to separate the collapsed area from the southern section of the building which continued to be used.

The interior of this wall, or possible from its core, produced a lovely flint cache today, which was excavated by Aaron.

Inside Structure Five, to the north of the collapsed central section, an intriguing robbed-out wall is being investigated directly opposite the one-pier pier in the building.

How does this relate to the history of the structure? Once again, dear reader, watch this space.

We have a day off tomorrow to prepare for this weekend’s final open day, so dearly hope to see as many of you as possible on site and in the Stenness Hall on Sunday.

Until then…