Dig Diary – What else but the weather!

A bleak day on site. (Jo Bourne)

A bleak day on site. (Jo Bourne)

Day Three
Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Out there in the Archaeosphere there are diligent followers of the Ness who get quite annoyed when we insist on talking about the weather.

We understand that. We would rather tell you about the archaeology, but every now and then there comes along a day of such malevolent meteorological menace that all thoughts of archaeology are blotted out and survival becomes of the essence.

In other words, a day like today. We woke up this morning to a howling wind and thunderous rain and by the time breakfast was digested it had worsened.

On site it was clear that excavation was impossible.

Kaehlin and Charlie take refuge in the supervisors hut. (Jo Bourne)

Kaehlin and Charlie take refuge in the supervisors hut. (Jo Bourne)

The trenches were full of water and underfoot has become progressively more treacherous. Luckily, we have plenty of shelter in the form of portacabins and so the day has passed with supervisors making good progress in the searching out of records and details of previous work on site, all of which refreshes memories and gives pointers to future tactics.

We are also finalising plans for the Ness exhibition, which will open next week at the Maeshowe Visitor Centre in Stenness village.

Roy and the first tour group of the 2022 season braving the elements this morning. (Sigurd Towrie)

Roy and the first tour group of the 2022 season braving the elements this morning. (Sigurd Towrie)

As you can see it's been a pretty wild day. (Jo Bourne)

As you can see it’s been a pretty wild day. (Jo Bourne)

The real heroes of the day are our visitors who turned out in large numbers for our three daily tours. Their resilience is quite remarkable and in the middle of tours, with driving rain in their faces, they continued to nod, smile and ask searching questions.

One of the first tour groups to arrive are from our old friends at the Andante Travel Group, led today by archaeologist Peter Yeoman.

The afternoon was a good deal better, weatherwise. Most of the rain seemed to have shifted elsewhere and, although the wind continued to gust and nag, there are high hopes that tomorrow will be better.

In fact today is also better, with some delightful news for finds supervisor Anne. She has become a grand-aunt or, as she insists on describing her new status, a Super-Aunt.

The newest arrival is peedie Alick James Smith, born yesterday and weighing in at 8lbs 1 ounce. His mum Sarah and dad Sam are vets in Dingwall and Inverness and both are signed-up fans of the Ness.

Intriguingly, the first photo of Alick shows him wearing, not one of those white maternity hats, but a woolly version which looks very like the regulation headwear at the Ness.

We look forward to welcoming Alick to the Ness, perhaps with a cut-down trowel for some early-years excavation.

Everything should be fine by tomorrow. The weather forecast is quite promising and site director Nick insists that excavation will start tomorrow “come Hell or high water”.

Given what has happened today we feel that the reference to high water may be unwise. We shall see.

Until tomorrow.

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