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Friday, August 7, 2009
(Previous entries available here)

Week 3 - Day 15

Once again it is another beautiful day in Orkney and the Ness of Brodgar dig continues at great pace. There is next to no wind, so attacks from midgies are constant and frankly very annoying. However, the little devils seemed to die off after awhile (probably from full stomachs or the lack of interest for the Neolithic site and archaeologist’s dusty skin.) 

My name is Mai Walker; I am a student on the dig who has just finished her A-Level in archaeology at Priestly College in Warrington. This is my first dig and first ever blog entry so apologies if I fail miserably at this, however I will try to keep you up-to-date on today’s findings, adventures and general archaeological fun. 

Today was a wonderful day for the whole team, with stone art found in grat quantities! Among the rubble, Sarah managed to discover an amazing piece of Neolithic artwork that has been scratched on to a piece of flag used as floor stone just outside of structure 10. In simple terms it was "jaw droppingly amazing" - no photograph yet, the artwork is very faint.

Picture ORCA
Mika's new cup marked stone.

Also, another amazing piece of artwork was found by Tanya, hidden behind a stone. it appeared in the form of ladder shaped crosses. Stone art is a very grey subject for archaeologists as no one knows exactly what it means or what it is for. There are various different types of stone art within different cultures and societies. Artwork can range from simple lines to crosses or even drawings. Some artwork may be graffiti or even just simple "doodles".

The artwork found on this site ranges from 4,000-5,000 years old which is amazing to be able to still find it. Another type of artwork found is the "cup and ring" patterned stone where a simple cup shaped groove in the rock has been made and sometimes also surrounded by rings. Mika found an example of this type of artwork today. These patterns can be identified with similar ideas from other cultures such as the Aborigines in Australia who composed various cave drawings that were simple rings and dots - although obviously no direct comparison can be made between the cultures. 

EdayA very interesting find was also made today by Tanya, she had discovered a block of red sandstone, which was used possibly in the construction of the wall. This is very interesting as the red sandstone does not occur naturally around site so the people would have had it imported - perhaps even from Eday, the source of sandstone used in St Magnus Cathedral in the 12th century.

The possible reason for using this stone may have been as a show of wealth or power; this can be compared to techniques displayed in Maeshowe and Barnhouse. This tells us that The Ness of Brodgar may have been a very influential complex within Neolithic Orkney. 

Mike has let me know that the stones on the inside wall of Structure 10, around where he is working had been burnt. This is very interesting as it makes you wonder why were they burnt? Was it an accidental fire? A religious ritual? An intrusion by outside enemies? Or even from later on societies of Orkney - a piece of medieval pottery was found by Cort in a pit in Structure 8 today. Many many mysteries! Well I will leave you with that question. 

Thanks for reading and remember if there isn’t a trowel in your hand then you should seriously consider a change in profession!

Picture ORCA
Picture ORCA
Dan planning in Structure 7.
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