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Monday, August 4, 2008
(Previous entries available here)

Day 11.

After a weekend of chilling out, drying out and stocking up on provisions, we are back on this spectacular site.

My name is Claire and I have been here on site for just over a week now. I am up here with my husband Mike, both of us having worked in archaeology in the 1980s, but gave it up to settle down and start a family.

A visit to the site, last year, fired us up and, keen to get back into the swing of things, we kept in touch with Nick. So we are here on the Ness, our 18-year-old son having deserted us for the excitement of Alaska. Rather different to my usual job of trying to keep a class of lively 4 and 5 year olds in check!

Our daily commute to work now consists of setting off from a campsite near the Broch of Gurness, follow the road past the Harray Potter (where we have bought several replica pots from!), turn right at Maeshowe and then carry on past the Stones of Stenness. Beat that!

Picture ORCA
Planning in Trench P being watched by one of the daily site tours.

I am working on Trench J, which has a small select workforce of me, Paul (our supervisor) and Marion. Today, our aim is to try and complete the recording and removal of a hearth  within the late ashy deposits that we have been working on.

Slowly and surely we are getting there and there are now tantalizing hints of what might be to come - hollow sounds and sudden holes appearing from layers below suggestive of collapse and infill relating to the large oval structure that has so far only been partially revealed in our trench.

Picture ORCA
Opening the extension to Trench P.

In the main trench (P) the M.A. students have spent the day meticulously planning, whilst new recruits (apparently on a busman’s holiday from Ireland and consisting of archaeologists from Ireland, Poland and Sweden) have been clearing a new extension to this area (opened up by JCB over the weekend).

Already walls are appearing that seem to fit with a very large rectangular structure, indicated by the geophysics to be even bigger than Structure 1 !! – amazing with wall lines literary just inches below the plough soil. It is the intention to only reveal this structure in plan this year.

The new trench (Q) opened up on Friday to trace more evidence of the "Great Wall of Brodgar" has revealed evidence perhaps of more buildings and a possible hearth that no doubt obscure the Great Wall in this area.

Meanwhile, in Trench N, Martin and Gavin are busy trying to define the new wall parallel to the Great Wall that was reported last Friday and its relationship to the original wall – Nick says that it looks at present that the new wall is later than the original and in fact may have only been built once the Great Wall itself had been much reduced in height.

Could this redefinition of the Great Wall  relate to similar late Neolithic activity at other sites, such as some chambered tombs where they also are redefined with the addition of revetments and later walls? – indicating major changes within Neolithic society? – time may tell!

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