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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
(Previous entries available here)

Day 17 - Hi, my name is Gemma Mutch. I joined the excavation at the Ness of Brodgar last year as one of the MAAP students at Orkney College. I have returned again this year as a supervisor.

Some exciting things have been happening. 

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Early morning clouds over Hoy.

In the extension to trench P the main structure, Structure Ten, which we always knew, from geophysics, would be impressive, is taking shape.  It looks fantastic and we know that, as we go down, things are only going to be better. 

From what can be seen, the structure is massive, even larger than Structure One in the main part of Trench P. It is a shame that the rest of the structure continues on underneath the house at Lochview. 

However, the small part which we have uncovered can provide some clues as to the purpose of the building and the scale. All indications is that this structure is larger than even Structure 8 at Barnhouse.  

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All hands to lifting the pot in the extension to Trench P.

Another interesting development in the Trench P extension was the removal of a large piece of pot today.

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Lifting the pot - a closer view.

The pot was found when the JCB was removing the topsoil and presented itself as a dark ring in the soil.

Today, Janis, one of the MAAP students (and also a conservator), dug around the pot to see its depth, from this a small trench was dug around it (see picture above). 

This little exploration made it clear that the pot was upright and the base and some of the sides were preserved.   

The pot, and a bulk of soil, was covered in some soil then wrapped in cling film and duct tape. The pot was then carefully lifted on a baking tray. It will go for conservation and to be analysed to determine what may have been kept within it - grain, milk, etc.   

I have moved into Structure 11, in the main part of trench P. It appears that the level where I am excavating may be the bottom most layer of the structure as there is no evidence of the stones continuing down.

The wall, which we believed to be the northern wall of this structure, now look like it may be a second revetment wall around one of the entrances on Structure One, perhaps to enhance this doorway.  

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Owen investigating the outer revetment of Structure 1.

Elsewhere on site, everybody is still in good spirits as to the possible finds which they may uncover and what other mysteries may be revealed on site. Even as I am writing this blog, another incised stone enters the finds hut.

During my time here on the excavation I've been training some of the new FOAT volunteers.  For many of these coming to the Ness of Brodgar was their first time digging and for all digging at the Ness of Brodgar.

During the training period I was able to teach the volunteers about excavation techniques, in particular the correct way to trowel and the identification of small finds such as pottery, flint and cramp (a type of vitrified material).

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Paul Sharman planning in Trench J.

I also taught them about the different recording methods we use on site. These range from the use of a site grid to do planning, and for the 3D recording of finds, to the use of context sheets for every layer and structure we uncover.

Also during this time, we covered why we take samples and what happens to them once they leave site and the geophysics results which led us to the particular excavation areas.

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