Dig Diary – Thursday, July 9, 2015
The calm before another storm
Today has been quiet, but decidedly productive, on the Ness.
The weather has been perfectly decent, with the sun, and breezes, lulling us into a false sense of security — of which more later.
The cleaning and tidying is complete and the site is looking wonderful.
Over in Structure Fourteen, Hugo and his team have brought the different colours of the soils and stones in the structure to life, aided by some helpful sunshine.
Interestingly, he has identified a number of new slots for orthostats (vertically placed stones), adding to the growing understanding of this enigmatic building.
In what used to be called the central midden, Owain, Jenny and others spent time unpicking some of the later walls bordering the area of Structures One, Eight and Twelve.
This will help define what everyone hopes is a large, paved area between the structures and which seems to lie in a vitally important position at the very centre of the site.
Obviously enough, this is a very late event in the sequence and this section should, ideally, have been dealt with last year.
But the volume of work delayed progress in this area and it is heartening to see it being carried out now.
Equally heartening was the removal of the very last section of the infamous water pipe.
Meanwhile, site director Nick had a busy time being interviewed by a North German television crew, who have adopted a novel approach to the Ness.
Although part of a wider programme on Orkney, the crew are keen to find out what it is like to be a digger, and particularly a volunteer digger.
They have been interviewing numerous people — who come from different walks of life — and are anxious to find out what leads them to spend their time kneeling in trenches, with the wind whistling round their ears.
We hope their opinions are broadcastable.
Elsewhere, visitors have continued to pour on to the site all day.
The tours have again been heavily subscribed and, once more, we are encountering folk with a keen interest in archaeology and a desire to find out much more about the Ness. It is a pleasure to have them here.
Lastly, we come to our false sense of security.
To put it simply, the weather forecast for Friday is execrable.
It seems to consist largely of heavy rain, of which Orkney has had more than its fair share this year. The consequences of downpours, like the one we had on Tuesday and which we are promised for tomorrow, are dire.
The entrance into the field for car parking becomes impassable and the site itself becomes dangerous for diggers, due to slippery mud and stones.
With the greatest regret (and he really means that) site director Nick announced that we will be closed all day tomorrow, Friday.
The site gates will be shut, the diggers will be absent and the daily diary will probably have to be bailed out.
We are so sorry about this, partly due to the inconvenience to visitors, but also because we hate to miss digging time.
Hopefully it will be over by Monday morning.
Until then . . .