Where the eastern annexe fits into the story of Structure Twelve
Cast your mind back to 2019 and you’ll remember there was great excitement in Structure Twelve’s eastern end – in particular the “corner of loveliness”.
This title was applied to a cell-like feature outside the building’s eastern entrance, which was producing animal bone, pottery and decorated stone on a daily basis.
Initially we thought it might represent a passageway or cell, but how it related to the story of Structure Twelve was not clear. But that has now been remedied, thanks to Jim Rylatt, Twelve’s supervisor.
Jim’s current thinking is that late in Twelve’s life – after the rebuild required by the collapse of the southern wall and roof – a teardrop-shaped cell was erected on top of the paving outside the building’s eastern entrance.
This addition formed part of a new north-south passageway leading to the doorway.
Like its northern counterpart, the small eastern annexe was incredibly poorly built, relying on the the heaps of midden accruing outside the building for structural stability.
The shoddiness of their construction strongly suggests that neither annexe was roofed.
The rear of an alcove on the south side of the annexe was formed by what appeared to be a large quernstone.
The sheer scale of the worked-stone object, together with the apparent lack of wear you would expect on a grinding stone, led to the suggestion we might be looking at a basin.
Whatever its role it was clearly a significant addition and, despite the terrible walling around it, remains visually striking today.
The alcove itself contained pottery deposits, including a large pot that had been placed on the floor.
The eastern annexe enclosed a substantial standing stone a metre or so east of the two orthostats flanking Structure Twelve’s eastern entrance and perpendicular to them.
This megalith bifurcates the Structure Twelve entrance and its alignment – within a few degrees of east-west – mirrors the standing stone in the “central paved area” between Structures One, Twelve and Eight.
This, the so-called “central standing stone”, was aligned to Structure One’s southern entrance. The stone to the east of Twelve, however, pre-dates the building and appears instead to align to a potential entrance to its predecessor, Structure Twenty-Eight.
Whatever its original role, or significance, at the time of the annexe the megalith split it into two clear halves – both of which were found to contain multiple deposits of bone, pottery and decorated stone.
It is not clear how these deposits related to Structure Twelve and its use. It may be that the east annexe remained in use after Twelve’s decommissioning. If, however, it was abandoned at the same time it could explain the nature of the material deposited.
Perhaps the last act within the by-now ruinous Structure Twelve was a relatively large feasting event. Evidence for this is suggested by a large spread of cattle bone deposited by the southern hearth and an even larger deposit of pottery in the northern section.
While the bone and pottery within the annexe may relate to the same event, the fact each deposit seemed to have been placed in discrete episodes, radiating outwards from the rear of the chamber and “blocked off” each time, perhaps points to a longer time scale.
Whatever the situation, the eastern annexe was filled with bone, pottery, rubble and decorated stones before being finally sealed off by a wall.
Built behind the entrance-flanking standing stones, it is unlikely this wall was high enough to prevent access to the interior but perhaps marked the symbolic closing of the structure.