Dig reveals layout of Harray earth-house

Picture: Sigurd Towrie

Archaeologist Judith Robertson at work clearing the entrance to the earth-house.

Into the second week of the excavations at the earth-house at Corrigall, in Harray, and the layout of the underground chamber had become clear.

Leading the team of excavators is archaeologist, Judith Robertson.

The four rock pillars that supported the chamber’s two-foot high roof have now been exposed and the rock-cut chamber found to have had a thin clay floor.

Spot samples have been taken from the clay covering for analysis. This is to see whether the earth-house contained any organic material that has long since decomposed.

Picture Sigurd Towrie

One of the roof support pillars. Note, that to compensate for the uneven floor surface, the builders have shored up the rock with smaller stones.

As is typical with Orcadian earth-houses, the structure has not produced much in the way of artefacts, other than a few more examples of Iron Age pottery.

However, what may be a Neolithic decorated rock art was found positioned between the two southern pillars, apparently pointing towards the entrance.

Further analysis will be required before it can be confirmed whether what appears to be a chevron and a pecked circular pattern is not just tool markings.

The three-week excavation is being funded by Historic Scotland.

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