Structure Eight – the mystery of the elusive entrance solved!
Diary – Thursday, August 13, 2020
We begin today with another pillow stone – this time from Structure Fourteen in 2013.
The beautifully polished stone, similar to the two red examples from Structure Eight, was sitting on a small incised slab.
The axe, which was black and appeared to be made from granite, had originally been longer. After a break, a new cutting edge had been worked on the other side.
It was a well-used tool before being carefully and deliberately deposited under the dresser.
In Structure Twelve, investigations in the north-west recess were suggesting we may have a blocked-up entrance (we did).
Structure Eleven produced another example of Neolithic art on this day in 2013.
A large decorated stone was found while removing the last remnants of a possible wall line behind the hearth. Its lower surface turned out to be covered with fine, incised decoration, ranging from more examples of the “Brodgar Butterfly” to an array of multiple chevrons, conjoined rhombuses and an exquisite little chequerboard.
Thursday, August 13, 2015, saw a momentous declaration.
We had wrestled with the question of whether Structure Eight had an entrance at its south end. And if it did, where was it?
And five years ago today, after clearing away the midden and rubble that obscured so much of the evidence, the answer was clear. Structure Eight had no southern entrance. Instead, it has a nice deep, rectangular recess, much of which had been robbed out.
It was a rich, dark red colour and, as usual, broken across the perforation. It also had some degradation, which is unusual in the body of a stone implement.
It was fashioned from the same rock as the two pillow stones from Structure Eight – rhodochrosite – which is non-crystalline and susceptible to degrading in the acid soil conditions at the Ness.
Staying with Structure Twenty-Seven, as more of the southern wall’s face was exposed it became clear that it was spectacular masonry. The stone courses were closely set, peck-dressed in some areas and with the distinct possibility that one of them may have been decorated.
This, together with the already exposed sections of wall facing, left us in no doubt that the building, whatever its function, was beautifully constructed.
In addition, we realised that builders of Structure Twenty-Seven had carefully built up the foundations at the south end by inserting layers of rough stone. This was probably to elevate the south end as the bedrock seems to rise upwards towards the other end of the structure.
Magnificent-looking buildings with poor foundations characterise the structures in Trench P, but in Structure Twenty-Seven we had solid foundations for a dazzling building of monumental proportions.
We mentioned yesterday that, a year ago, a major clean-up operation was under way in Trench P ahead of a photographic recording session.
This was completed on August 13, 2019, and the photography sessions began. Here are some of the images from Professor Scott Pike’s drone. Click on any picture for a larger version.