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Friday, August 3
(Previous entries available here)

Good Morning!  

And windy welcome to August at the Ness of Brodgar and the end of week three of our excavation.

I am Charlotte Crowston from Edinburgh and like most of the previous writers of the diary entries I am one of the Masters students from Orkney College.

Orkney is one of the most fantastic places to study Archaeology because as we are continually learning on site, there is fantastic archaeology right under our feet. I walk around now trying to imagine what may be hidden in every field, and what makes it even more remarkable is that the majority of it is around four or five thousand years old.

I think that I am so amazed by the age of the surviving archaeology here since my first degree was in Medieval History and Archaeology, so I am not used to dealing with artefacts and structures quite as old as this! 

Time is just flying by here and I can’t believe that’s another week of excavation gone.

My friends at home have been shocked to hear that I am out of bed before 10am since I have never been much of a morning person, but the early starts mean that we can achieve as much as possible from our short time here.

Once again it is another windy day and as I can hear from the pitter-patter on the roof of the shed that I am lucky enough to be sheltering in to write this, the showers have already begun!

Personally, I find the wind worse than the rain because no matter how may layers of clothing you put on, it is relentless and always seems to get through – I’m beginning to feel like the marshmallow man from the Ghostbusters film!

However, on the sunny days, I just look around me at the beautiful scenery and fantastic landscape and remember why I am here – even just a quick glimpse at the Ring of Brodgar will do it. Anyway, enough about the weather, down to business… 

Over the last few days there have been lots of samples taken from each trench which are then wet sieved and examined at the college.

This forms an important part of our understanding of the developments in the environmental makeup, economy and ecology of the site which cannot be interpreted through excavation alone.

The majority are bulk samples in order to recover a representative amount of biological remains. I haven’t yet had my day of wet sieving but I am looking forward to it since it will be a new experience for me and everyone who has already done it has enjoyed it. 

Trench J is under an intense cleaning process in order to view the soil colour and changes. Once the cleaning is complete it will need to be photographed and planned again which is what has been happening in trench M.

After this is finished trench M is going to be extended by a square metre in order to look for a continuation of the beautifully constructed wall which was found in trench N a few days ago.

In the big trench P there is a lot of trowelling taking place in order to try and define the size and extent of the numerous structures we have found there. Sections are being taken at specific areas to examine the stratigraphy and gain more of an idea of what was happening during the times of human activity in this area.

Photographs of small areas of P were again taken this morning and once the structures are once again defined this large area will need planned once again. 

Planning is quite harsh on the back and I found it quite a difficult task, yet at the same time it was extremely rewarding to see the final product and is a very important part of the archaeological record.

The area which you draw becomes greatly significant since you begin to notice even the smallest things after looking at it so closely which is important is such a large trench. 

The wind is making the necessary paperwork more tedious – unfortunately archaeology is not all Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, swinging through the jungle to cries of “this belongs in a museum!”. However in the process of filling in context sheets and records we are seeing first hand the importance and use of such paperwork when it comes to trying to understand and interpret the wonderful structures and features that we have been coming across.   

I can’t stress enough the overwhelming sense of importance that this site seems to have had in the Neolithic and that only adds to the significance of what we are doing and how fortunate I feel to be excavating here.

Right, I have babbled on enough for one day so I’m off to brave the ferocious wind again.

Eat your heart out Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford! Hold onto your hats…  

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
Orkney Archaeological Trust
Orkney College
Historic Scotland