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Thursday, July 31, 2008
(Previous entries available here)

Hi, welcome to day 9 of the Ness of Brodgar excavation! 

My name is Danta Smith and I am a grad (MAAP) student at Orkney College.  I come from Oregon, in the United States, but have lived in California and Arizona as well.  I graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona in 2006 with a degree in Anthropology/Archaeology.

Picture ORCA

I chose to come to Orkney to study because of the opportunities the graduate degree offers, and especially for the opportunity to learn about archaeology in a landscape that is rich with history. I have been in Orkney for six months now and will be very sad to leave it in September. Orkney seems to have a way of capturing you.   

I have never properly excavated before this dig, and it has already enhanced my education on the matter. I come to this unfamiliar with Neolithic archaeology, as I am more accustomed to Native American culture and dwellings from about 1100AD.

The history is quite vast here, which is a large part of its appeal.

I have been catching up on the history and timelines here, but nothing is like being in it to really gain perspective. I am learning about Neolithic structures and have been excavating in Trench J for the past week.  I am now down to what appears to be the natural layer of clay that the "Great Wall of Brodgar" has been built upon.

Picture ORCA
Synchronised trowelling by the undergrads in Trench P.

This wall seems to have been so massive that it has settled into this hard natural clay by many centimetres – perhaps indicating that this wall was originally quite high with a substantial amount of masonry above what we see today. Not a lot of finds for me in the area, but that was expected. I have encountered many animal bones throughout the layers, that have been removed, and have found some teeth today, as I am finishing up in this area. Also, in Trench J, Paul has been excavating a lovely hearth that is showing up quite nice today, thanks to the clouds.

Picture ORCA
Creating shadow to photograph hearth in Trench J.

Work is carrying on across the site with the anticipation of Trench P expanding in the next couple of days. That will, hopefully, reveal more of the rectangular structures shown in the geophysics. 

Another trench has been started, west of Trench N, in hopes of determining if the "Great Wall of Brodgar" continues, as expected, right across the peninsula, or whether there is an entrance.  Trench N has developed nicely as the progress to establish the scale of the ditch, and where the center of the ditch may be, but still nothing definite.  

I’m sure in the next few days big news will be abounding from the site, but right now we are having some nice, quiet appreciation time for the Ness and, as for me, I find that I am quite attached to it already. 

During the next few weeks, I expect that the Ness will be changing in appearance and it will be quite exciting to see what happens next.

Well, I am set to go back to my Trench to give it a good clean before I plan it. Until next time!


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