Dig diary – Thursday, August 19, 2010

From the trenches…

Hi, my name is Sarah Cobain and I am up here in Orkney volunteering for two weeks as part of my summer holidays. I usually work for Cotswold Archaeology, down in Gloucestershire, however, I have been coming up to Orkney to work on the Ness of Brodgar excavations for the last three seasons.

Last year, I started working in Trench R, where we have uncovered the “Lesser Wall of Brodgar”. At the end of last season, we had reached a height of about 1m for the wall and it was my aim this season to make sure that the wall was at least taller than me (mind you at 5ft/152cm that’s not difficult).

We managed to achieve that aim finding the base of the wall, which, all in all, measured 1.7m from the top of the highest surviving stone to the base of the wall and has revealed a flagstone pathway around the base of the wall.

The construction of the wall seems to have amazed every person that has come and taken a look at it and the fact that it is still standing 5,000 years later proves the Neolithic folk knew what they were doing when building a wall. In the words of David Laurence – “this was obviously a high status site as it was surrounded by a gigantic wall”.

I have to say I am a little peeved that Nick has named the wall the “Lesser” Wall of Brodgar.

I realise the “Great” Wall of Brodgar title has been taken by the 6m wide wall in Trench J, however since the “Lesser” wall is now 1.7m high, I feel that it now deserves the title the “Greatest Wall of Brodgar”.

Alas, I have been told that the name “Lesser Wall” is now official in the literature, so I have to accept it, but in my opinion it will always be the “Greatest” Wall.

In other areas of the site, we have had a busy day of cleaning up the trenches, as we have a cherry picker on site to take some aerial photographs and the BBC here filming while the site is being excavated.  We have also had some lovely finds uncovered today – a shale object and mace head in Structure Eight and an axe head in Structure Twelve.

Today is my last day here on site, and I will be sad to leave again. But I am sure I will be back next year to see how the site develops.

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