Dig Diary – Monday, August 1, 2016

Day Twenty-One

A nice oblique view of the main trench looking east.

A nice oblique view of the main trench, looking east.

Watched by a drone above . . .

Somehow you never imagine, when embarking on a career in archaeology, that the regulations of the Civil Aviation Authority will ever be of interest. But they are. Oh yes, they most definitely are.

It’s all to do with drones –  those whizzing, whirring little monsters as piloted by Laura (see below) with the aim of taking detailed aerial photographs of our trenches.

We have included some of the amazing images from this morning but we want to assure everyone that each CAA safety regulation is followed to the letter and that no children, diggers, cars or passing budgies have been injured in their making.

Jasper is closely observed by BBC cameraman Ed as he cleans the bone deposit under the north-east buttress of Structure Ten.

Jasper is closely observed by BBC cameraman Ed as he cleans the bone deposit under the north-east buttress of Structure Ten.

A major clean gets under way of the deposits immediately under the secondary phase clay floor in Structure One.

A major clean gets under way of the deposits immediately under the secondary phase clay floor in Structure One.

Over in Structure One, the long-promised departure of Phase Two is imminent.

All of the Phase Two floors have now been removed and extensive cleaning is taking place to enable a major photo-taking session.

Then with, much anticipation and rubbing of hands, work will begin on the Phase One deposits.

As Structure One is probably one of the longest-used buildings on site this will be of particular interest and we will keep you fully informed of progress.

All work has now ceased on the south west buttress in Structure Ten –  the one where the human bone, articulated cattle bone and interesting pot were found.

Lots of head-scratching in the north end of Structure Eight as the details of its double hearth are unravelled.

Lots of head-scratching in the north end of Structure Eight as the details of its double hearth are unravelled.

This is because excavation there has now reached a level consistent with the primary floors across the interior of the structure and all of those levels must be excavated in concert.

Attention has, however, passed to the north-east buttress, where excavation has revealed some large roof tiles, similar to those uncovered over the south-west buttress deposits.

Today, one of the most prominent tiles, a large affair about a metre in length, was lifted to reveal lots of cattle bone, including articulated foot bones and at least one astragalus.

Roof tiles covering bone seems, therefore, to be a feature common to both of these buttresses. It will be interesting to see now what (if any) other similarities may exist.

Antonia continued today with her dismantling of Structure Eleven, encountering various phases, buttresses, alterations and miscellaneous re-modellings.

It is complicated but rewarding work, as shown by the curious peck-decorated stone she unearthed last week.

Structure Eight is the focus of considerable work at the moment, with Catriona and Andy’s team excavating a series of sondages (planned holes) across the width of the structure in order to gain a window into the sequence of floors before full excavation commences.

Jayne assists Martha with sorting the mountain of 'foreign stone' from the Ness.

Jayne assists Martha with sorting the mountain of ‘foreign stone’ from the Ness.

The double hearth and the north end of the building can now be seen to have had at least one phase of re-setting of the hearth stones with perhaps more to come.

As in Structure Twelve, a whole series of small stake holes can also be seen at the side of the hearth. These are not all contemporary but probably held wooden supports to enable the suspension of food or ceramic containers over the fire.

Last, and certainly not least, we have welcomed a new bunch of diggers, including Willamette returnees Kaitlin and Melanie, together with Ness veteran, and newly-engaged, Jayne, who will be working with geologist Martha on stone.

Until tomorrow . . .

From the Trenches

This morning at the Ness started by everyone from Trench P being kicked out of the area and into the parking lot to fill holes.

Scott Pike and myself got the first and possibly only day to fly the drone over the trench. So far it has proved impossible to have completely empty, no matter what time of day. The focus of this droning session was on getting an overall view of the site and then close up footage of each structure.

Keep your eyes peeled to future pictures and videos from the drone and, if you have a few thousand dollars to spare, it could also make a really great toy for your dog.

Overview of Structure One, with Structure Twenty-One disappearing out of the top right of the trench. The central 'plaza' area is in the top left.

Overview of Structure One, with Structure Twenty-One disappearing out of the top right of the trench. The central ‘plaza’ area is in the top left.

Ben explains the complexities of Trench T to some new arrivals.

Ben explains the complexities of Trench T to some new arrivals.

After that it was back over to Trench T, so rarely seen by anyone but it’s inhabitants aka Ben, Mai, and the students they are overseeing.

On behalf of Trench T, I have been instructed to let you all know how amazingly fascinating it is.

We’ve got orthostats, a drain, a wall, and tons upon tons of midden. Currently, we are finally getting through the midden that had pits dug into it everywhere which will then free us up to explore more of what in the world is happening under it all.

This morning Cat and myself were hypothesising that her area was so complex was because all of the Neolithic gold (something really non-existent) was hidden there. NOTE: This is in no way based on evidence – do not take it seriously.

But just you wait! Trench T will turn up a pile of carved stone balls any day now.

In the meantime, keep an eye out and keep reading the blog.

Cheers, Laura