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Tuesday, July 22
(Previous entries available here)

The Comet Stone: Picture by Sigurd Towrie

Hello! Ruth here again, and I’m here to update you on our latest progress at the wonderful Ring of Brodgar.

What really amazes me about this place is how varied the weather can be. Take yesterday, for example, it was so sunny we actually got slightly sun burnt! It was the best weather we’ve had so far and gave us that extra bit of motivation for excavating down the trenches, and the stones looked beautiful against the clear blue sky.

Compare it to today, when we got soaked this morning by a thick cloud of mist! However, as I write this the mist seems to be clearing and things are brightening up…

We began our third week with two of us working on Trench C, with Antonia and Jane, while the other two students continued to excavate Bob’s trench - Trench A in the northern section of the Ring.

We found working on Antonia’s trench rather difficult as it was hard to identify each particular layer as we were troweling down in order to obtain our samples.

However, the end result yesterday looked brilliant and we were ready for the paleoenvironmental scientists, who have come from Stirling University to take samples in order to study the botanics and geomorphology of the soil. They are hoping to take some pollen samples from the top layers, which will be useful for their studies.

Over in Trench A today, we are continuing troweling down either side of Colin Renfrew’s 1973 trench in order to reach the bottom - something he never achieved due to the trench becoming water logged.

We are also sampling the layers which can become quite challenging, due to the wet nature of the material. I think a good clean of our waterproofs is in order when we are finished!

An interesting point to note in this trench are a number of mysterious stones in the bottom, which we are excavating around, and we are not sure yet as to why they are there, so this is something to investigate.

Other new events this week include the start of the Ness of Brodgar dig, which is getting well under way now.

Also, Adrian and Norma have started their resistivity studies around the Comet Stone and other surrounding areas of the ring to see if there is evidence of other standing stones which may have once been here in order to complete the circle. I have found this particularly interesting and hope to learn more about this.

Studies are also being undertaken carefully in the middle of the Ring in order to see if there is any evidence of past features.

It really is astonishing how much we have accomplished on both trenches, particularly Trench A with it’s rich array of blue and orange colours depicting the different layers. So far so good, and with less than two weeks to go there is still plenty of work to be getting on with!

In addition, I would like to say a warm welcome to Dave Taylor who has joined us from Nottingham University, and who is settling in very well and working very hard.

The Ring of Brodgar
The Ness of Brodgar
Orkney's World Heritage Site
Archaeology around the Ness of Brodgar
The Standing Stones of Stenness
Rethinking the great stone circles of Northwest Britain - a paper by Dr Colin Richards