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Thursday, July 19

Hello there!

My name is Jem Heinemeier and I am digging here at the Ness of Brodgar for the duration of the excavation.

I’m studying up here at Orkney College for my Post Graduate Diploma in Archaeological Practice before I become a professional archaeologist in the big bad world! I have excavated on several different sites in my time but this is my first hands on experience with the Neolithic period and I must admit it is one of the most exciting sites I have excavated yet, and it’s only day 4!

Of course uncovering the trench from last year did help fuel enthusiasm but the 3 new trenches are already wielding many potentially amazing features…it makes the rubbish weather we are having almost bearable! 

So what have I been doing and what are my thoughts? Well, on day 1 we all got stuck right in with the heavy manual labour, taking out the backfill from last years trench J. It was hard work but we could all see, once we got down to the plastic sheeting that was protecting the features uncovered last year, that what lay beneath the tarpaulin was very impressive. The sheeting was removed on day 2, bit by bit, and every time another area was revealed people would drop their tools and head over to take a look at the amazing structures and walls…each person hoping to find more, just as impressive, structures in their trenches! 

I have been working in trench M since Tuesday, which lies a few metres to the West of trench J. We are now down to the top level of what appears to be a massive wall that runs from trench J through trenches M and N, according to the geophysical survey results. So what we can see are many stones, of varying sizes and orientations, that run through a section of the trench. Other finds from the trench include burnt bone, flint and pottery…the flint is the nicest stuff, it survives the best and the range of colours is fantastic! 

Today (day 4, Thursday) we all undertook a massive cleaning job on trench P, the newest area to be investigated. When I say cleaning I mean masses of troweling, and yes, we do all have our own trowels; mine has my name on it :p!

We needed to take away the rest of the topsoil to reveal the beginnings of any features within the trench and boy are there some good features revealing themselves!! Unfortunately I have had to take a break from excavating for the moment (my back has always been a problem for me…and the drugs just aren’t strong enough today!) so I have been helping to collect the coordinates of any good finds, like pottery, and laying out a trench grid for trench P…oh and writing this, hope I’m not boring you J 

I’ll just write a few words about my personal feelings about the site and the excavation to finish this entry off...well, I just can’t wait to dig down into the newly uncovered features!

The anticipation is killing me (as is my back but hopefully that will be fine by Monday!) and I reckon this could well be one of the most exciting and rewarding excavations I have ever been part of.

The site is incredible, the setting is breathtaking (surrounded by two lochs, the hills of Hoy to the West and the Ring of Brodgar looming on the Northern horizon only a couple hundred metres away) and the team is great…bring on the sun!

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