Smerquoy excavation diary — Entry Six

May 21, 2013
Vickie Cummings

Drain on west side of the Smerquoy house.

Drain on west side of the Smerquoy house.

The weather has been kind to us today.

Although has been windy, it has also been mild with quite a lot of sunshine, especially this afternoon. We have been busy clearing the occupation layers down  on to the house floor, which has been great fun as there have been lots of finds, mostly flint and pottery.

Mary-Anne found a nice large sherd on the house floor in the western corner. A good number of features have also been showing up, cut into the house floor, including what looks like post-holes.

Outside the house, work continues also, which has produced some lovely big slabs as well as a good quantity of finds. Andy and Billy have been excavating a drain and having a jolly good time.

Everyone is in high spirits and enjoying working on such wonderful archaeology. Even better today were the wide views out over mainland’s lochs and hills. We’ve heard lots of curlews, who seem to enjoy being on the hill. No sign of the hen harrier spotted the other day, but we are hopeful for another sighting.

I’m almost certain that tomorrow will reveal all sorts of exciting finds. Fingers crossed for more good weather!

Ode to a polished stone axe
Now I’d like to lyrically wax
About a lovely polished stone axe
I’ll surely find one in a feature there
With no-one else this find I’ll share!

If Colin tries to claim it’s his
I’ll get myself in a terrible tiz
Cos that polished stone axe was found by me
And I will be happy as can be.

May 22/23
Christopher Gee

Hearth with older hearth cut mark visible. Also visible are some of the small drainage channels in the floor.

Hearth with older hearth cut mark visible. Also visible are some of the small drainage channels in the floor.

Over the last few days, we have been busy sectioning pits, scoops, stone settings, a stake hole, “drainage” channels, and possible post holes all cut into the natural till clay floor of the house.

Some of the drainage channels lead into large pit like feature at the north end of the house.

Georgie has begun to carefully excavate the fill which seems to be a looser gravely material containing several bits of pot, one of which appeared to be a round bottomed vessel.

Another drainage feature has been revealed outside the house on its west side. It has stones lining its edges and joins the drain coming out of the house.

We were very interested to discover today, after careful troweling and cleaning, that there is evidence of an earlier hearth on a slightly different alignment at the same location as the extant stone set hearth.

The stone hearth was half sectioned to reveal layers of ash, all of which were fully sampled and will hopefully provide dates for its use.

With the scrape of a trowel
Days of labour and love
Each tip of ash
Or charcoal fleck an ember
That lit and gave warmth a moment.

The spark of life in the heart
From the first flame
To the last dying ember
Leaves a memory in time.


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