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Wednesday, July 28, 2010
(Day 8)


Mystery Object Number One (2010)

While removing some of the deposits around Structure Twelve, Linda, a recent post-grad from Orkney College, found a rather strange-looking, ceramic object. At first, we thought it was part of a rather elaborate rim to a Grooved Ware pot (there are examples of vessels with scalloped rims that have been found elsewhere on site) however the more we examined it, the less likely this seemed.

Picture ORCA
Today's mystery object, found by Linda.


It does look almost claw-like!! – just hope we may find more conjoining pieces of whatever it is - all suggestions and interpretations will be considered!

Hearth in the "temple"

In the last half hour of today’s excavation there was great excitement in the centre of Structure Ten as the tops of upright slabs in the very centre of the chamber have been revealed, forming a "typical" Neolithic hearth.

Although still partially obscured by later deposits, it is expected that four slabs will be revealed that will form a square about 1.2 metres across. The implications of this find will be explored as we uncover more.

Picture ORCA
Excavation in the central chamber of Structure Ten, just before
the central hearth was uncovered.

From the trenches . . .

Greetings from the Ness of Brodgar! My name is Kirstin Wood; I am 23 years old from Ontario, Canada.

Only a month ago, I graduated and received my Bachelor’s of Arts Honours degree from the University of Western Ontario, specialising in anthropology. It was only in my fourth year that I began to consider completing a Master’s Degree in anthropology, and that is partly why I am here; to gain experience, and to see if archaeology is something I would like to pursue in the future.

I also very much love Scotland, having been here twice before for a tour with my family and to attend the Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh last summer.

Finally, during my time as a student, I completed a few projects on the sites that are found throughout the Orkney Islands. It is only natural then, that I am here today, working at this site!

This is my first, but certainly not the last, archaeological dig. I have been here for two weeks, and it has definitely been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Not only did I learn how physically demanding the process of excavating is, but I have also learned how to use my trowel properly, how to mark and collect small finds, how to clean up a site, and finally learned how much time, effort, energy, and resources actually go into a dig itself!

It is quite the operation, having people performing various tasks to ensure that each and every find is recorded and processed! Oh, and I learned from firsthand experience that one should always prepare oneself for any weather, since it changes so often and very quickly over here!

For someone who has no experience in archaeology or excavating, it is very exciting to be here. I remember how excited I felt on the first day when I discovered burnt pieces of bone. Since then I have found more pieces of burnt bone, cramp, pottery, flint, and sometime last week I found an animal tooth, although I cannot say from which animal.

Of course, I am also part of the "international team" that is uncovering more of Structure Twelve every day!  It is truly a remarkable feeling to uncover and view artefacts and structures that haven’t been seen for thousands of years!

I will be leaving for home in a few days time, and, I must say, this whole experience will be one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I feel very fortunate that I have been given this opportunity to participate in this very exciting process. I certainly hope to be back next year, uncovering more mysteries and wonders at this Neolithic site!

Meanwhile, back in the trench the sun has reappeared, the mist is rising and layers of waterproofs have been removed.

Structure Ten

In the outer annex to Structure Ten, where Clare and Mike have been working, several crucial discoveries regarding the sequence of events in this area have been resolved (or at least made clearer).

Picture ORCA
The annex of Structure Ten, showing the drain.

Although no obvious break in the external wall face can be detected to show that the annex is a later addition to the main body of Structure Ten, it has always seemed likely that this was the case.

Picture: ORCA
Paving revealed at the base of the recess in the annex.

Today, below the deposits that filled the small side cell, paving was discovered that disappears under the walls of the annex. The walls, however, do not sit directly on the paving but sit on a thin, uneven deposit, just above the paving.

This would seem to indicate that the paving predates the construction of the annex and perhaps indicates an original continuation of the paving (the outer, paved passageway) that seems to surround Structure Ten, along its front.  Without however dismantling the annex this cannot be fully proved.

Likewise, the paving is also under the rather slap-dash walling that defines inner wall face of the annex. So, as predicted, it would seem that the annex/forecourt is a later addition.

We have still to determine whether the standing stone stump, discovered last year and forming part of the inner annex wall, predates the annex or was erected at the same time as the rest of the annex was constructed.

Just outside the side recess of the annex, Clare has revealed a very typical Neolithic stone drain, represented by two parallel rows of stone that is still partially covered with stone slabs – does this relate to the construction of the annex, or does it predate it? 

We expect that it probably runs into a drain that we speculate may underlie the paving surrounding Structure Ten. However, there does seem to be a gentle curve in its line that seems to lead it towards the standing stone stump – curious and has lead to lots of speculation on site!


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