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Friday, July 30, 2010
(Day 10)

Mystery object number three

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Chris opens a sondage in Structure Elevent to reveal mystery object number three.


While excavating a small trench against a wall face in Structure Eleven, Chris has uncovered an upright slab built into the wall that has a circular hole cut into its upper edge. The hole at present would just seem to have revealed the core of the wall behind it, so it basically seems to lead to nowhere! All suggestions gratefully received!

Already the end of the second week – how time flies ...

Nick Card, the site director, seems exceptionally pleased with progress to date, with several of the objectives he set to be completed by the end of the dig nearing completion already!

The weather, although not as good as the last two seasons, has still been almost perfect for digging, so spirits have been high among the team - but who couldn’t be enthused with a site like this.

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Almost 100 visitors on Friday afternoon's site tour.


This weather, coupled with news of the site and its latest discoveries, is also attracting the crowds. A steady flow of visitors view the site from the new viewing platform during the day, with many more attending the twice daily tours – almost 100 on this afternoon tour alone!

Structure Ten has now been cleaned for photos and a major planning session.

During this cleaning yet more "artwork" has been uncovered on one of the flanking orthostats either side of the hearth. Unfortunately this stone is rather badly laminated, so the incised "art" is being recorded as quickly as possible just in case it flakes off.

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The central chamber in Structure Ten ready for its next plan - the ranging poles
outline the location of the hearth.


Under the paving that surrounds Structure Ten, a relatively small drain has been uncovered, with two of the slabs removed to investigate this feature. It was somehow expected that a massive drain would be uncovered that reflected the splendour of the paving, so it was a slight surprise that only a small drain, running along the edge of the paving, was revealed. Perhaps the drain that Clare revealed a few days ago, in the outer annex, drains into this one.

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Mike has revealed the suspected drain under the outer paving surrounding Structure Ten.

Tomorrow, a conservator who has been visiting the excavations of the Links of Noltland, in Westray, arrives on site to advise on the best way to proceed with the "painted" stones, revealed earlier this week.

As the stones cannot be removed, at present, because they are built into the structures, the conservation work will have to be done in situ – a less than ideal situation but one we will have to deal with.

Advice however is also being sought by from several other experts in the field so, hopefully, we will be able to preserve these new discoveries.

From the trenches . . .

Hello, my name is Tonnie Richmond and this is my third summer up here at the Ness of Brodgar dig.  It is addictive. It is the end of my first week, and I have been working on Structure Twelve, under the excellent supervision of Owen.

My best find so far was on Monday - some large pieces of decorated pottery.

Structure Twelve was uncovered this year, so we are all still fairly close to topsoil and there is a long way to go. As always, work is being done carefully and slowly, with lots of photographs taken and plans drawn as we work downwards.

Despite being in the upper layers, we have still managed to find some interesting things.

As well as lots of bits of pot, yesterday Christine found a strange little slate stylus, and today Billy found a lovely polished stone tool – we thought it was a whetstone, but Nick Card described it as a chisel. We have been speculating that the little stylus may have been used for applying make-up, but, of course, we will never know for sure.

But it is not all about finding objects, delightful though that is. For the past couple of days, I have been digging an area of wall line, to try and work out what is going on. The process of revealing more stones is fascinating and absorbing.

Now I have retired, I have more time for archaeology. 

During the year, I am a volunteer at Poulton (, in Cheshire, which is a great multi-phase site, with links to Liverpool John Moore University, and which runs training courses at spring and in the summer for students and volunteers. But the dig here are the Ness of Brodgar takes some beating.

Today, the sun is shining and everyone is looking forward to a weekend off to allow our stiff muscles to recover a bit! Some of the younger and fitter diggers are planning to go climbing this weekend - they are clearly gluttons for punishment. I will be recuperating, ready for more hard work next week.


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