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Thursday, July 23, 2009
(Previous entries available here)

Hello folks! My name is Jane and I am a full time student at Moray College, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) network.

I am about to enter the third year of my environment and heritage degree course. I am working at the Ness of Brodgar excavation site to gain experience of the principles of excavation in practice towards one of the course modules.

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Uncovering one end of Structure 8 in one of the extension trenches.

So far we have been really lucky with the weather and conditions have been great for digging (although, I may have typed too soon because as I am writing the blog, in the cosy finds cabin, the rest of the team are "enjoying" our first major cloudburst!)  

Progress has been fairly rapid and myself and the other excavators have been giving the different areas of trench P a general freshen up, skimming off the surface in a process known as a "photographic clean".  

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More of the outer face of Structure 10 being revealed, with the removal of collapse outside the building.

As Christa wrote yesterday, there have also been new areas uncovered yesterday using the JCB which were exciting to investigate for the first time. Antonio was particularly lucky with finds, uncovering some flints, astragalus bone and a boulder which has a cross incised on the side (this may have been made by ploughing, but it was exciting nonetheless). 

The extension to the trench to uncover the end of Structure 8 (the one with the beautifully symmetric walls with regular piers along the inner faces) has also yielded results. The end was revealed but not quite as everyone expected. Instead of a square one, this is rounded with an outer supporting revetment much like the wall construction seen in Structure 1. 

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Sarah carefully excavating some of the unburnt bone - which is turning out to be mainly cattle.

Today I worked, with a few others, in one of the new areas and it yielded quite substantial quantities of unburnt bone (unusual for an Orcadian Neolithic site, where, quite often, due to acid soils the bone, except for burnt bone, does not survive) which was kept for diligent processing by finds supervisor, Anne. There was also pottery and flints found as well as some kind of stone handtool (again by Antonio - we’re getting suspicious about him!) 

Part of the outer wall face of Structure 10 was also revealed clearly and also an area that could have been where part of the wall collapsed, or could have been an entrance.

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The new incised slab, found by Mikael.

The find of the day, however, was a piece Orkney sandstone with a definite chevron design of incised, decorative Neolithic art (very similar to that found on some Grooved Ware pottery). It was found by Mikael when he lifted one of the rubble/collapse slabs within structure 10. It is a perfect example of the precision and skill of the Neolithic craftsmen.

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