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Monday, July 20, 2009
(Previous entries available here)

Picture ORCA
Starting the removal of backfill this morning.

It's day one and wonderful to be back on this amazing site - on a beautiful day, with six weeks of excavation ahead of us.

My name is Anne Billing and I have the job of ORCA finds assistant for the 2009 excavation. I’ve dug at the Ness of Brodgar excavation over the last four years and was very happy to take on the finds job when Nick Card, excavation director, suggested I do it.

So far today I have been organising, tidying and getting acquainted with my domain – the finds hut - and it’s into it that all of this year’s finds will come - to be dried, cared for, packed, catalogued and made safe for further study. Sitting in front of me, as I type, is a box with some of the star finds from previous years – stone axes and mace heads – and I’m full of anticipation for what will come up this year.

Will we get the elusive carved stone ball that Nick lusts for? More mace heads? Fabulous pottery and flint work?

The rest of the team is out on site, clearing Trench P for this year’s excavation.

The site is put to bed at the end of each season’s digging by covering it with black landscaping material, weighed down with earth and stone. Now all that has to come off again. It’s heavy work, especially today, in brilliant sunshine, but everyone wants the job done as quickly as possible, so we can get going and get the trowels out to start work unraveling of the secrets of the Ness of Brodgar.

We are already attracting visitors, including a Dutch archaeologist who recently found a Neanderthal skull in the North Sea and two new residents to Orkney, who have archaeological backgrounds. As a result of their visit this morning, they will now come and work here as volunteers next week.

We will start tours proper on Wednesday of this week, July 22, at 11am and 3pm, so we all look forward to seeing you - if you are in Orkney.

Meanwhile, If you’re looking for extra archaeological excitement here, the Orkney Archaeology Society is holding a "Neolithic Feast" on Friday, July 24, at 7.30pm, in Woodwick House, Evie. Entry is £26 and is preceded by a guided tour of the Ness of Brodgar by Nick.

There will be ancient music, a Neolithic brewing demonstration and Neolithic "artefakes" for sale, as well as the obligatory raffle. Tickets are available from Fursbreck Pottery (telephone (01856) 771419) or Nan Traill Thomson, (01856) 850889.

It is now 2.15pm, and most of the backfill of earth and stone is cleared, so the next stage is peeling back the protective membrane. What the new members of the excavation team will see will astonish them. For the rest of us, it’s a chance to see Trench P as we left it last year, for the final time, before we begin the adventure of Ness of Brodgar 2009.

Come and visit us - the Ness of Brodgar is one of the great archaeological sites in Britain and we’re very happy to share it with you.

Picture ORCA
Almost there....
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