Preparations under way to recover prehistoric timber from Structure Twelve

Lisa and Travis at work in Structure Ten. (Sigurd Towrie)

Lisa and Travis at work in Structure Ten. (Sigurd Towrie)

Dig Diary – Day Twenty-Six
Monday, August 2, 2021

We have a very special offer today, not, we are sad to say, for diary readers, or even for visitors to the site, but for fellow archaeologists.

We are willing, at a cost (and it will be considerable) to rent out Travis to any archaeological site which is having trouble locating artefacts.

Are you short of pottery, bereft of flint, failing to find stone axes or are you a finds supervisor rattling around in an empty hut?

What you need is a Travis. And we have one!

You see, Travis is our one-man finds-detector, a positive truffle hound when it comes to sniffing out fascinating artefacts in the most unpromising of locations.

At the end of last week he moved from Trench J to Structure Ten, partly so that he could have a change of scenery and extend his experience.

Two views of Travis' thumbnail-sized flint scraper from Structure Ten today. (Sigurd Towrie)

Two views of Travis’ thumbnail-sized flint scraper from Structure Ten today. (Sigurd Towrie)

The effect was instantaneous and it has spread. Today, he uncovered a very fine flint scraper while removing the last of the deposits over the yellow clay floor in the building’s north recess.

Shaking her head, structure supervisor Sinead pointed out that since Travis’ relocation all the other Structure Ten diggers have found artefacts – including pottery and a shaped stone.

The daily charge for Travis is not cheap. Interested parties should apply to Nick Card, site director (POA). Oh, and we will want him back.

We mentioned on Friday that two post holes had been discovered in Structure 12 with the remnants of wood inside.

They are the most extraordinary post-holes we have seen as both are rectangular, rather than roundish, and one is almost square.

The two Structure Twelve post-holes with wood remaining. (Sigurd Towrie)

The two rectangular post-holes in Structure Twelve – the wooden stumps still in situ. (Sigurd Towrie)

We speculated last week about what shape of wood could have been placed there and wondered whether it could have been split into appropriate shapes.

We have now consulted Jim, Structure 12’s senior supervisor, who is currently lost on a site somewhere in nether England.

Jim has suggested that instead of posts, the holes may have held small “planks”. It is relatively easy to insert round post-holes by simply banging them into the ground and wedging them with chocking stones. It is not so easy to do that with planks and this might account for the shape of the holes.

Jenna, Andy and Clare discuss the differing layers encountered in the trench extension outside the blocked north-western entrance to Structure Twelve. (Sigurd Towrie)

Jenna, Andy and Clare discuss the differing layers encountered in the trench extension outside the blocked north-western entrance to Structure Twelve. (Sigurd Towrie)

The jury is still out on these suggestions, but in the meantime, Jan is busy planning the area in fine detail and Ole has taken some of his superb macro-photographs.

Jo, our micromorphologist, has been speaking to our Archaeology Institute environmental archaeologist, Dr Scott Timpany, to discover what he will need in order to identify the species of wood once recovered.

At the moment Jo is contemplating excavating a half-section thus allowing her access to take her samples, possibly inserting a Kubiena tin to retrieve material.

This process will be fiendishly difficult as the wood is in poor condition and will be hard to collect.

The process will probably take place tomorrow and we will keep you fully posted about everything that happens.

Sigurd is also having a difficult time at the North end of Structure Twelve, where he is disentangling a whole series of ash and rubble dumps. This is no easy task.

 

Ray and Ceiridwen recovering Neolithic pottery from inside Structure Thirty-Two this morning... (Sigurd Towrie)

Ray and Ceiridwen recovering Neolithic pottery from inside Structure Thirty-Two this morning… (Sigurd Towrie)

And the pottery was still appearing later in the afternoon... (Sigurd Towrie)

And the pottery was still appearing later in the afternoon… (Sigurd Towrie)

Including this impressively large sherd. (Sigurd Towrie)

Including this impressively large sherd. (Sigurd Towrie)

In Trench J, Colin has taken over from Michaela in starting to remove the blocking material from the south-east entrance, and in Structure Thirty-Two more of the pot spread has appeared together with a concentration of animal bone.

Interestingly, this seems a mixed deposit with cattle, sheep and possibly vole bones.

Structure Five and the 'Great Wall of Brodgar' in Trench J - minus the baulk. Well, almost. (Sigurd Towrie)

Structure Five and the ‘Great Wall of Brodgar’ in Trench J – minus the baulk. Well, almost. (Sigurd Towrie)

We had a very interesting visitor this afternoon. Nick spotted an otter perched on a rock just a few yards out in Stenness Loch. It was busily engaged in eating an eel, but every now and then it would turn and peer at the Ness, no doubt wondering what all these people were doing.

We will be back tomorrow, when it will hopefully be a little bit warmer.

Until then…

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