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Wednesday, August 6, 2008
(Previous entries available here)

Hello, my name is Tonnie Richmond.

I am a volunteer and I have been here since day six. Like several other of the volunteers, I was in Orkney last summer and came to the open day. I was completely bowled over by the site at the Ness of Brodgar and decided to see if I could assist this year. I joined the Friends of Orkney Archaeological Trust and was delighted to find I could join in this summer’s dig.

I live in Warrington and dig most Saturdays at Poulton, near Chester - a great multi-period site, from late Neolithic to medieval, with a bronze age timber circle, lots of roman pottery and a medieval chapel with lots of skeletons.(Check out Poulton Research Project for more details.) 

But the Ness of Brodgar takes some beating. This Neolithic landscape in Orkney is just overwhelming... 

It is hard work! I have just retired and am not used to hard physical labour like this. But it is brilliant – the site is fascinating and the people are great. Last week I was working on trench Q – the one investigating whether the "Great Wall of Brodgar" extended across the whole width of the Ness.  

Picture ORCA
Structure 11 as revealed from the tower.

Today, I have been working on the extension to Trench P, where more and more features are emerging.

The large rectangular structure (Structure 10), as shown on the geophysical surveys, is slowly being revealed with wall lines appearing all over the extension. The scale of this structure is difficult to imagine – although we knew it was over 20 metres long (disappearing under the modern house of Lochview) and 10 metres wide internally. When you actually see it "in the flesh" it is even more impressive than one could imagine.

The photographic tower was put up today and Nick says that, from the top, the multitude of potential wall lines are beginning to make sense and form coherent structures. From the tower this building also seems to be aligned towards Maeshowe – a coincidence?

Picture ORCA
Trench P extension from the tower.

Some of the other bits of walling in the original Trench P, that did not seem to relate to anything else, are taking on a new form and coherency when viewed from the tower. An isolated bit of walling that formed a very nice rectangular recess now seems to form one side of a very neat square structure (Structure 11) as revealed by differential drying of the soils – places where wall lines are still hidden by later deposits dry out much faster than the surrounding soil.

So far I have found several pieces of pot but really would love to find a flint scraper.  

I am so pleased to have had this opportunity to dig at such an amazing site, and with such a great bunch of people. I hope to be back next year.

Picture ORCA
A well-earned tea-break.
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