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Friday, July 24, 2009
(Previous entries available here)

Dan and Lynda discuss the east extension to Structure 10.

Cecily Webster of Orkney College reporting from the trenches. Artillery fire minimal, wind sharp and rising, cattle bone trays reaching critical level. It’s a morass out there. 

Archaeologists are a hardy breed much like Soay sheep, but when loose soil runs like paint under the trowel, blurring pits and hearths to splodges and sticking to boots like the caress of imminent trenchfoot, it is more dangerous to the contexts and layers to remain in the trench. This is why the archaeologists spent the morning huddled damply in a concrete shed, much like Soay sheep - but drying up this afternoon, so back to it. 

Finds processing goes well: the finds staff have taken to referring to the contents of the 27 or so drying crates of cattle bone as “Bella”. Bella, were she condensed into one animal at the present stage of excavation, would be approximately 30 hands tall,12 feet long, and 1,100kg, and is showing interesting signs of Neolithic butchery and surprisingly little charring. "Bella" was found in a discrete area along the external west wall face of Structure 10 in among some of the presumed collapse from this wall.  

Although the rain has prevented trowelling over some of the more sensitive areas, work continues with the removal of rubble from within Structure 10 – so far no more decorated slabs today. 

Last year, we also found evidence for earlier modern "investigations" on the site in and around Structure 8. Two large pits had been excavated that were filled with just topsoil and produced a sherd of modern glass. In the extension to the trench, this year, to reveal the north end of Structure 8, further topsoil filled pits are evident and Lynda is investigating.

Perhaps these relate to the period when a large decorated stone (now in the National Museum in Edinburgh) was discovered in the 1920s. 

The tours progress valiantly despite the rain, and if you should happen to pass by the site on the way to the Ring of Brodgar, do wave to the archaeologists – sodden or sunburnt, it brightens the excavators’ day.

Picture ORCA
North end of Struture 8.

Lynda investigates evidence for some potential earlier investigations on the site.

Clearing rubble from within Structure 10.
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