Dig Diary – Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day Thirty-Two


The end partially robbed out wall of Structure Twenty-Seven.


Structure Twenty-Seven revelations

Chris hard at work in the entrance area to Structure Eight and exposing more elements of the underlying Structure Eighteen.

We are nearing the end of excavation for this year, with six days left of actual digging — including our Open Day on Sunday.

As usual, when this point in the season is reached, the pace of archaeological activity, and new understanding, increases.

The perfect example is Trench T, which has see-sawed back and forth between frustration and revelation.

Dave and his team have persisted through the ups and (mostly) downs and have now emerged triumphantly clutching a new, and important, piece of evidence.

It was thought that the mysterious Structure Twenty-Seven had been substantially robbed-out in the Neolithic period and that maybe not too much of it survived.

This has now been overturned because, digging at the bottom of the trench, Dave has found the exterior of the back wall of the structure and has demonstrated that many courses of the walling survive.

The width of the wall in this section is 2.3 metres, which is the same width as the part of wall revealed in another part of the trench.

Moreover, another section of nicely built drain has been uncovered — not parallel with the wall, but likely joining up with the already uncovered section.

This may have been underneath a flagged passageway, which may run round the exterior of the building, somewhat similar to that around Structure Ten.

Sam reveals more of the layers under the north-eastern buttress in Structure Ten.

This is excellent news, but does nothing to resolve the issue of the chunky nearby orthostat.

Does it represent the robbing of Structure Twenty-Seven?

Or is it another structure entirely?

To sum up, and most importantly, it is now possible that Structure Twenty-Seven’s walls may survive to many courses, revolutionising the way we think about it and giving hope that next year may bring a good plan of the building.

In Structure Ten, Sam and Liz have been cleaning material from the base of the north-east buttress and have discovered a number of orthostats relating to the primary use of Structure Ten.

At the base of the buttress they have come upon beautifully peck-dressed stones which form part of the base of the buttress and which must represent material from the original construction of the building.

One of the biggest surprises of this year has come from outside the entrance to Structure Eight, where several seemingly disjointed pieces of walling have resolved themselves into part of the mysterious Structure Eighteen, which lies under the north end of Structure Eight.

Structure Eight showing approximate positions of underlying Structures Seventeen (yellow) and Structure Eighteen (red).

Surprisingly, this new evidence shows that Structure Eighteen had corner buttresses to the north-west and, astonishingly, piers like Structure Eight above it.

This building must be older than Structure Eight and to find piers is something of a shock. It is not on the same alignment as Structure Eight but has been swung round at 90 degrees or, rather, Structure Eight on top has been set at a different angle.

We will never get a complete plan of this building as this would mean removing Structure Eight, but we can find significant new information simply by continuing down through Structure Eight’s floors to those of the building beneath.

On a wider scale, where do we go from here?

Nick has been discussing this with Hugo and a plan has emerged to focus on the areas between existing buildings, and specifically between Structures One and Eight, with deep sondages and hopefully clearing up the relationships between Structures Eight, Eighteen, Sixteen, One, Nineteen and Seven, and clarifying the overall sequence present on site.

That must wait until next year, but in the meantime there will be new information and knowledge to be gained as we wind down towards the end of this momentous season of excavation.

Until tomorrow…

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