Clipboards, trowels and a find or two…
Dig Diary – Day Nine
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Well, that’s been another good, productive day.
All across the site the dig team have ironed out the week-one teething troubles and work is progressing smoothly and efficiently.
Excavating a site is much more than just trowelling – everything must be recorded meticulously and these records cross-referenced to allow future archaeologists to understand everything we have done.
The excavation phase we are now in – where we have reached occupation deposits and floors in Structures Ten and Twelve – increases the volume of paperwork, which is why visitors around Trench P will see as many diggers clutching clipboards as trowels.
In Structure Ten, we are continuing to remove some later floor deposits and this work has revealed some interesting features. We seem to have, for example, evidence for robbed-out orthostats arranged at right angles to the primary wall face.
The upright slabs were embedded into the floor and seem to have formed a series of small recesses lining the wall. What these recesses were for remains to be seen, but they have been encountered elsewhere on site and seem to have been put to a variety of different uses.
The ones on the west wall are quite obvious with the remains of snapped-off orthostats, together with paved flooring, creating a dresser-type arrangement.
Excavation today has also seen the removal of stone roofing slabs which had been re-used on the floor of the building. As usual we hoped these reused slabs might be covering a plethora of Neolithic treasures – but alas, not today.
In Trench J, Structure Five is simply refusing to play ball. The trench extension has certainly revealed more of the building’s western wall, but the wall lines, and stratigraphy, is proving highly complex.
Supervisor Paul – an archaeological magician when it comes to unpicking stratigraphy and structural relationships – has been poring over the emerging wall lines and we have every faith that he will come up an answer.
To the north-east of the building, and outside its walls, the site of a prehistoric fire discovered by Duncan yesterday continued to be excavated today. The area was extensively sampled and these will be analysed by our expert Cecily.
The hope is that we can obtain sufficient charcoal to allow the fire – which we believe was contemporary to the construction of Structure Five – to be radiocarbon dated. If this is possible, it will be a huge milestone for the site.
We know Structure Five is the earliest building so far excavated on site, dating from around 3300BC. It would be marvellous to have a confirmed date.
Over in Structure Twelve, Jan moved outside the southern hearth she has been unpicking and began work on the accumulated deposits to the west of the massive fireplace.
Nearby, Kevin and Jenna continued excavating and sampling a floor deposit south of the building’s northern hearth. During this operation, Jenna recovered a remarkable flint flake, pictured below.
Work to excavate the area of drain collapse to the north of Structure Twelve continued apace today and we are delighted to announce that Sigurd has not (yet) disappeared through the floor into the Stygian depths of the drain lying beneath.
He has, however, further defined the area surround the collapsed area and found a rather beautiful sherd of cordon-decorated Grooved Ware pot into the bargain.
If he vanishes through the floor tomorrow we’ll be sure to let you know.
Meanwhile, outside Structure Twelve, a new, temporary structure appeared for a spell this afternoon. This was not Neolithic, however, but a darkened “tent” erected by site photographer Ole, who was recording the ephemeral incised “Brodgar Butterfly” motifs on the outer wall face, opposite the building’s blocked southern entrance.
These are difficult to see unless the sunlight hits them in a particular way – something Ole was attempting to recreate today with his lighting rig. He seemed confident it had worked at the close of play today. If not, there’s always tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrow, we’ll be back with more news then…