Structures Seven, Nine, Twenty-Two and Thirty-Four
We conclude our journey through the lesser known buildings at the Ness with the twilight years of the Neolithic complex.
Around a century after it was erected, Structure Ten was the focus of the site. It had suffered a catastrophic collapse but had been rebuilt around 2800BC and its interior remodelled.
Outside, the large piered buildings that had dominated the site for centuries had all but gone, dismantled and covered with midden and rubble.
But some activity continued in and around their remains…
After Structure Nineteen fell out of use it was replaced by a small, oval building.
Structure Seven measured around six metres by five metres and not only incorporated elements of its predecessor but roughly followed the same footprint.
A large, central hearth sat in the northern half but little else survived the building’s demolition.
To the south of Structure Seven was a stone oven with a 40cm wide entrance flanked by two upright stones.
The interior of this feature, which measured 1.4 metres by 0.6 metres, was heated by hot stones. These were brought from elsewhere – perhaps the northern hearth – and inserted into the oven.
Because there was no evidence of ceramics or burnt grain in, or around, the oven we can rule out its use as a pottery kiln or grain drier. Presumably it was therefore used for cooking food.
Unlike other structures on site, there was no evidence that Seven had a stone tiled roof.
It may have been an enclosed roofless work area or sections may have been partially, or temporarily roofed, with non-permanent materials.
This was a very small building will an interior measuring a mere 2.8 metres by 1.1 metres.
It was built beside a rubble mound on top of the remains of Structure Fourteen. Access to the interior was by a single entrance in the north-west side.
The threshold was marked by a large incised slab – probably a re-used orthostat from one of the earlier structures.
Inside, Twenty-Two was partially paved with large flagstones covering 75 per cent of the floor area. Outside was a carefully constructed paved area that incorporated several large fragments of reused stone roof tiles.
Structure Nine is represented by two poorly built, curving wall sections to the north of Structure One.
Five metres apart, the walls were built into the midden deposits outside Structure One’s original northern end.
The fact Nine contained no hearth, and there was no evidence of a floor surface, suggests this structure – whatever its role – was hastily constructed and short-lived. It is unlikely the structure was roofed.
At present, there is little that can be said with any certainly about this enigmatic structure.
Thirty-Four appears to have been a subcircular building with a diameter of four metres and a north-north-west facing entrance.
Situated to the west of Structure Ten, one of the only main structures still standing on the site, Thirty-Four partially overlies the remains of Structure Eight’s south wall. Inside, several thin orthostatic slabs form box-like features, the role of which is not yet clear.
Like Structure Nine, there has been no evidence of a floor surface in Thirty-Four, suggesting it too had a short lifespan.