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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
(Previous entries available here)

Hi. My name is Alan and I am a second year UHI student doing an Environment and Heritage degree, which has a large archaeology component. This is my first experience of practical excavation and this is my second day at the Ness of Brodgar 2008 dig.

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Cleaning commences on Trench J, after the removal of last year's backfill.

I arrived apprehensively on the first day, wondering what I would be expected to do and would my current theory-based knowledge be enough not to make myself look an absolute fool. I need not have worried as everyone has been very helpful and supportive. Nick, the site director, is very approachable as are other experienced team members. 

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Anne and Stewart cleaning within Structure 1 in Trench P.

The site has been worked on over previous years and the previously exposed Neolithic structures had been covered over with a plastic membrane and 3-4 inches of topsoil to protect them over the winter. The topsoil needs removing so that further excavation can commence. This took a day and a half and was hard manual work. I enjoyed the experience as everyone pulled together, regardless of their position in the team, to work in collaboration to achieve this task.

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Gemma and Gavin extend Trench N, to hopefully uncover a potential ditch running parallel to the "Great Wall of Brodgar".

By mid-morning today, the second day, with the site exposed, I was introduced to the delights of using a trowel to continue to excavate and explore the site. With trowel in hand there is always the inner fear that you will scrape and destroy something of value, that is thousands of years old, due to your ignorance. 

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Undergraduate students of the UHI start trowelling in Trench P.

Once again, Nick, Dan and James were very instructive and supportive and allayed many of my fears.  I have discovered that trowelling is highly skilled and I have much more to learn but there is probably not a better place or a team to learn it with. With a special mention to Naomi, the finds assistant, whose cheery disposition brightens up every morning.

Many thanks to Nick and team for giving me this opportunity.


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