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Wednesday, August 5, 2009
(Previous entries available here)

My name is Christa, and, as some of you avid blog followers may remember from my blog entry in the first week, I am a student at Cardiff University, entering my third year and completing my final excavation module.

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Antonia contemplates the planning of Structure 10.

I’ve been digging at the Ness of Brodgar for three weeks now, and, despite the hard labour involved, my enthusiasm is still going strong (my knees on the other hand…).  For some reason I’ve been entrusted with a second update from the trenches, so here goes. 

Today dawned bright and blustery and we arrived on site looking slightly windswept before the digging even started. However, being a stalwart crew, we got stuck in and away we went.  Although blinded by clouds of dust, work continued at a brisk rate.

The hunt for the continuance of the wall of Structure 10, uncovered by Mike and Claire, is ongoing, and I was working in that area of the trench today when I was fortunate enough to discover a piece of incised rock art on a "dirty great rock" which we cleared from the section edge.

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Mika and Jack seeking the south wall of Structure 10.

The excavation of Structure 8 is also continuing, the soil slowly being removed, layer by layer, to reveal the archaeology below.  In the course of today’s excavation Tony has uncovered a beautiful piece of pitchstone, a shiny black volcanic glass, like obsidian, probably from the island of Arran, off the west coast of Scotland.  A well-travelled piece of stone indeed.  Also in Structure 8, Cort, one of the volunteers from America, has found a beautiful piece of decorated, Grooved Ware pottery which was lifted as I am writing this.  It really is an incredibly fine piece of pottery.  I’m suitably impressed. 

Dan has been sitting in splendid isolation in Structure 7, investigating the horseshoe shaped structure and uncovering various contexts.  His excavations today have uncovered a stone pot lid. 

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Jonny and his team in the east corner of Structure 10.

Mark has been excavating a pit inside Structure 10, and has found a rather hefty slab of pottery, associated with what seem to be some animal teeth, possibly still contained within the lower mandible. 

The rest of the interior of Structure 10 is being planned out, and differential drying rates may be giving some indication of the whereabouts of the still elusive walls that Nick would so like to see. 

STOP PRESS - the area I left to go and write this blog has just turned up a large stone with similar cup marked decoration as that found yesterday. I have the worst timing, but at least this way I get to update you all on the exciting things turning up and hopefully whet your appetite to come and visit us. 

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New stone decorated with "cup" marks.
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Ross records the "standing stone" stump.

Apart from the nice big bits of juvenile sheep bone that I have been feverishly chasing through the broken stone there are large quantities of Orkney Vole appearing everywhere.

In addition, there have been two more decorated stones uncovered today. One is a very interesting stone with pecking decoration of seven "cup" marks appearing in a circular design. The original individual peck marks that create these are still discernable and are so fresh that they seem to have been carved only yesterday. The other decorated stone consists of the small pecked design in a straight line.

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The multiple "cupped" stone.

In other site news, the small treasure trove corner of Structure 10, that has so far given us such delights as the human bone fragments and the "standing stone" stump, has now produced deer skull fragments, including one piece with the antler still attached, as well as several pieces of decorated stone.

Along from this area, more of the large outside walls of Structure 10 are being revealed and, interestingly, there seems to be two sets of outside walls which seem to contain a flagstone walkway.

Nick wonders whether this walkway was open to the sky or if the main structure was roofed that the roof extended out over this walkway/passage to create a covered passage that would lead into the inner building.

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Sarah uncovering the various wall lines defining Structure 10.

There's still no sign of the outer wall face of this outer enclosure in Mike’s sondage, which may suggest that Structure 10 was partially built into the surrounding midden dumps or that the outer wall face has been robbed out.  

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Back out on site, I’ve just discovered another first for the site – a beautiful bone bead – only the second piece of worked bone found on site that may give indications of  the survival of other bone artifacts to come! 

Orkney has been brilliant, standing archaeology wherever you look around the site and the nearby landscape as well as everybody that I have come in contact with having some archaeological knowledge.

It is incredible to look at the site now and compare it back to the site that met us only last week. Walls are starting to become more defined, and the whole place is looking more organised as more recognisable areas of structure are emerging.

Structure 8 is a good example of this.

After relentless planning yesterday, it has now been recorded enough to be taken down, exposing more of the impressive walls and revealing a set of what seems to be a set of three curving alcoves. 

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Tanya excavating some articulated bone.
The Ness of Brodgar
Orkney's World Heritage Site
The Ring of Brodgar
Archaeology around the Ness of Brodgar
The Standing Stones of Stenness
The Barnhouse Settlement