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Thursday, August 9
(Previous entries available here)

Hi there, before I get started and enthral you all with the exciting archaeological developments, allow me to introduce myself. 

I’m Gemma Mutch and I am one of the postgraduate archaeology students studying at Orkney College and excavating here at the ness of Brodgar. 

I am originally from Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, and I studied at Aberdeen University for my undergraduate degree.

My reasoning for coming to Orkney to study archaeology was simple, Prehistory! There, in one word I have summed it up.  My four years at Aberdeen took my straight to the medieval, combining my love of both history and archaeology.  I wanted to move away from this and spread my wings.  In all honesty there is no better place to study Scottish prehistory than in Orkney! 

So on to some new developments. 

As Jem mentioned yesterday, trench P (the 20m x 20m trench) was cleaned up for photographs. 

By cleaning the trench the soils looks crisper and more vibrant and allows us to see the soil differences.  When the trench is cleaned like this it looks amazing, that’s not saying that it doesn’t always look amazing, but it makes things just that little bit clearer. 

Once cleaned, all the equipment and people are moved out of the area, and away from the trench edges, to allow the photographs to be taken. The photos I’m sure turn out amazing, and are very helpful in the interpretation and understanding of the area.  I’m just glad that I’m not the one up the ladder taking the photos.  The photographs that are taken on site are a very important part of the site archive mainly because they provide a visual aid.   

In trench P, some nice pieces of pottery have been found. These have been substantially large in size, but unfortunately not in the best condition.  These were found in the soil outside of the main crucifix building that is in trench P in the southwest corner. The excavators removed these pieces of pot meticulously, the main objective often when lifted large pieces of pottery is to be able to lift them intact.   

Also in trench P is the little area where I have been working. 

On the main wall of the building, which is of cruciform shape, but looks more like an ‘M’ there is a little wall which seems to have been added.  I have been investigating this and everyday I dig it my opinions of what it is change. 

Well the first obvious thing to say about it is that it is an extension, or and addition added on after the completion of the main structure. This can be seen from the west trench edge, and looks to be built differently from the rest of the wall.  The main differences in the building method is that this little addition is built on the western edge with orthostats (upright stones) as opposed to the conventional method of flat stones, like laying bricks.

When I initially started to investigate this area yesterday it became apparent that there was no eastern face to the wall.  It also seemed as if it was a large box that had been divided into two sections by orthostats.  However as I have dug a bit more today, the division in still there but one area has what looks like rubble within it and the other area has what appears to have a little box.  The purpose of this box is yet unsure, however I have high hopes of finding some treasure J.  

My other ambition in trench P is to find a doorway into the main structure. One doorway has already been found in the northeast.  I however hope to find one in the southeast corner, preferably next to my little box.  When I started excavating the box area it did seam that had there been a doorway there in a modern house it would have been the perfect little alcove to keep your shoes in. 

[STOP PRESS – Gemma realised her ambition and found her entrance - and on one of the slabs forming the side of it was a decorated slab exhibiting symbols very similar to that found earlier on site and at Skara Brae!!] 

In the rest of trench P there are walls turning up everywhere. 

When the area was cleaned for photographs, it provides us with the ability to stand back and look at the whole of the trench and to try to decipher it.  It becomes a bit like a puzzle, trying to determine where walls join or meet, or is built at a later stage.  It also becomes a large part of what is going on in trench P.  Every time some rubble is removes, it is looked at to see if it is a part of a wall and if it can be removed or should it be left.  Like I said its one big puzzle, but I am hopeful that by next Friday that we have a better understanding of what it is that is going on.  Either that or our questions will be left unanswered until next year! 

Before I head of back to my little box, I would like to remind you guys that there is two tours everyday.  There is one at 11 am, this one is often quiet, so more people come to it as it is taken by us students and we appreciate the opportunity to take you around the site and tell what has been happening, what we are finding and for you guys to see some of the finds.

There is also a tour at 3pm, which is taken by a Historic Scotland ranger. 

So come on by and see us, even if you miss a tour, we are happy to talk to you and try and answer any questions you may have.  There is also going to be an open day on Sunday 12th August, and there are tours every half and hour, starting from 11am.  So if you can’t manage during the week come on Sunday. 

Well I’m off to do some digging, and hopefully find something nice.  Thank you for you’re continued support and I hope you come by the site soon 

Bye!

Gemma 

p.s thank you to all the people who go past in the buses and wave to us, we appreciate 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
Orkney Archaeological Trust
Orkney College
Historic Scotland