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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
(Day 3)


On a less than clement day, welcome back to the Ness – more like an autumn day not midsummer, but once again it does not seemed to have dulled the enthusiasm of the diggers.

Antonia’s team, who are working in and around Structure Ten, are doing a sterling job in further refining the plan of the central chamber. Although many of the walls have been robbed of their stonework, the shape of the chamber is becoming clearer, based on the robber trenches.

In the annex at the east end of Structure Ten, Billy has been excavating a recess (adjacent to the stump of the standing stone revealed last year) with the removal of some late blocking to the entrance to the recess.

Picture ORCA
Billy excavating within a recess in the outer annexe of Structure Ten.


Excitement grew as Billy started to lift a large slab forming part of the floor of the recess – was this the lid of a cist? As it was eased off, we peered under to see only more midden, but with the outline of some very badly-decayed bone that seemed to have the consistency of cheesecake!

Is this a burial or a deposit of animal bone? Only time and some very careful excavation will tell.

Gavin and Dave’s crew, in Structure Eight, are also progressing well. More of the midden infill of the building and stone collapse is being removed to reveal more of the upright slabs that define the numerous recesses along the walls of this almost-stalled building.

Every stone is carefully examined for more examples of Neolithic "art", in light of the number of examples previously found in this area. So far no more examples have been found but expectations are high.

Picture ORCA
Overview of excavation within Structure Eight.


Meanwhile, in Structure One, Martin and Dan, with mainly students from Orkney College, are getting to grips again with the internal complexities of the building.

Collapse and infill from around the later, inserted oval structure are being carefully removed to reveal more of this enigmatic addition – will it contain a burial or special deposit?

Picture ORCA
Wall lines of the new Structure Twelve being further revealed.


In the new extension to Trench P, Owen’s "International" team - volunteers and students from Hull University, Holland, Canada, Scotland and America - are revealing yet more walls.

These seem to represent several phases of perhaps the same structure (Structure Twelve).  There seems to be a mixture of both angular and rounded walls that reflect elements of the other structures on site.

As more deposits are removed, the shape of the building seems to change by the hour – what will it turn out to be? Perhaps not the other end of Structure Eight as first envisaged but a totally new building. But who can tell as present – the new few days will be crucial.

Simon, the producer and director for the new BBC television series History of Ancient Britain, moves unobtrusively about the site doing interviews with many of the team – can’t wait to see the end result.

From the trench frontline. . .

Hello, I’m Lorraine Sharpe, aged 37.

I live in Orkney, and I’m a starting my third year of study on the BSc Hons Degree in Environment and Heritage studies with UHI at Orkney College.

As part of my course, I am undertaking an excavation module here at the Ness, which is an amazing site to gain experience. Today I have been working in the extension of Trench P, clearing back the soil to expose more of the structure(s?) that are present.

I have found numerous fragments of bone as well as a nice piece of rimmed pottery. I am really enjoying this opportunity to gain experience in archaeological excavation, and although it is a peedie bit nippy, the weather so far has been kind.

On the first day my hands and knees were a peedie bit sore but are feeling much better today. Fingers crossed I will still be able walk at the end of my time here.


Maeshowe Alignments
A Neolithic focal point?
Stone Age art
The Great Wall of Brodgar
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
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Orkney Archaeology Society