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Monday, August 18, 2008
(Previous entries available here)

Hello, my name is Jonny Dye and I am one of the MAAP students and Orkney College.

Originally, I am from County Durham and did my undergraduate degree in archaeology at the University of Sheffield. I have always enjoyed studying the Neolithic period and as Orkney is famed for its Neolithic archaeology it seemed like the obvious choice for a place to come and further my knowledge on this amazing period of history. 

Today is the beginning of the final week of excavations at the Ness of Brodgar.

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Antonia planning Structure 10.

It’s amazing to think that I’ve been digging here for a month already. At the start of the dig, the vast amounts of structural remains boggled my mind (it's not something you see south, we’re more used to postholes), but slowly over the past four week I have come to understand the site as a whole.

The fantastically preserved dwellings with several phases of occupation and adaptation and ‘the Great Wall of Brodgar’ are remarkable in themselves, and when you put them in the context of the World Heritage Site they are even more so. I think over the next few years a greater understanding of this site can only lead to a greater understanding of the surrounding sites such as the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar and the British Neolithic in general. 

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Danta cleaning within the south-west recess of Structure 1.

As I was saying this is the last week of the dig and it has that feel of everything winding down in preparation for backfill, so we’re not digging many more big holes and there are a lot less diggers on site.

Most of us are now involved in some element of recording. This is part of archaeology they don’t show on TV and can be a bit tedious compared to digging, but it is probably the most important part of the whole process.

Without records of what we do, we might as well not bother, because in essence we are destroying what we discover. All the finds have to be sorted and catalogued, (Naomi and Janis are doing this as I write, beavering away in the background.) and there is a lot of drawing of plans and sections to be done. 

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Jonny planning Structure 8.

Today, I have been drawing the building that was partly exposed in the original Trench P and was further uncovered with the trench P extension (Structure 8). This is the large rectangular building with piers in the interior and is particularly interesting as it doesn’t really have any comparisons.

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Owen excavating the drain that has appeared outside the revetment to Structure 1

To draw it we use planning frames and basically scale down what we see in the frame onto paper. Sometimes it’s quite easy, but on this site with the massive amounts of stonework and rubble it can get a bit confusing if you’re not on the ball. 

The Ness of Brodgar is truly an astounding site and some of the artifacts that have been found are also exceptional.

There have been about a dozen pieces of rock art found and loads of pottery, including some huge pieces and ones with beautiful decoration. These sorts of finds really bring you that bit closer to the people who lived here during the Neolithic.

Oh yeah, and I found a polished stone axe head, which is the best thing I’ve ever found on a dig. I may have mentioned that before, but I am pretty chuffed about it.

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