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Picture: ORCA
The north wall of Structure 10 with a tour group looking on.

Monday, July 27, 2009
(Previous entries available here)

Day six at the Ness of Brodgar, and everyone started the second week with dry gear and fewer aches as we morph into a fit and bronzed crew!

Lynda Aiano here, student on the Orkney College Master’s in archaeological practice.

Although we started the day in glorious sunshine, as I write, the Hoy skyline has disappeared as the rain sweeps across to us and sends the diggers rushing for their waterproofs while Anne, our finds supervisor rushes to rescue the never-ending trays of animal bones from their drying place outside the finds hut.

Work continues to define the walls of the enormous structure 10 and remove the tumbled stones from its interior.

There was great excitement this morning with the discovery of a beautiful decorated stone, with a "cup and ring" mark (around 15 cm in diameter, and unusual here on Orkney), among the stones being removed.

Picture ORCA
The "cup and ring" stone.

Dr Sue Ovenden and Alistair Wilson of the Orkney College Geophysics Unit are on site at present conducting a magnetic susceptibility survey over Structure 7 – one of the later (still Neolithic we think) ephemeral buildings that seems to post date and partially overlie Structures 1 and 8.

This technique will hopefully indicate potential activity areas and hearths within the building before excavation and sampling of the floor deposits takes place. 

Picture ORCA
Magnetic susceptibility being carried out on Structure 7.

Sarah has battled on through the bones and shillet (loose small stones like quarry debris that is used to form the wall core in some buildings) in the curious deposit outside Structure 10’s possible entrance, and revealed yet more tumbled wall.

Meanwhile, the folks in the finds hut are grateful that she has stopped appearing with tray after tray of bone…

A couple of nicely weighted hammer stones from Structure 10 today, and a prizewinning lump of cramp. More hefty chunks of pottery are turning up across the site, indicating some pretty large and coarse vessels. 

A cheerful red photographic mast has arrived on site today. This will help us to get those high shots which assist in making sense of these vast structures - it's not easy getting a true impression of them from ground level or even from stepladders.

Often what appears to be just an incomprehensible "mess" will suddenly be transformed into wall lines and features when viewed from high above. 

Picture ORCA
Photo from the new camera tower looking down Structure 8.

More members of the team also arrived today, consisting of more students from Bristol and other volunteers from all over the country. They are being trained on some of the extensive middeny soil deposits that seem to seal much of the site just to get them used to the site and the type of finds they will encounter. 

I think this place is getting to me; I woke up this morning trying to picture what a roof might look like on a building as large as Structure 10, with its long axis of over 20 metres, and wondered just how long such a roof would survive. It's not surprising that some of the buildings were rebuilt on a smaller scale!

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