July 18th, 2014
brushstrokesandshutterclicks:

A Map of the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney”, from a range of source maps, showing the known sites

brushstrokesandshutterclicks:

A Map of the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney”, from a range of source maps, showing the known sites

July 14th, 2014
I think I’ve been spotted. 

I think I’ve been spotted. 

July 13th, 2014

brushstrokesandshutterclicks:

This is the Ring Of Brodgar between the lochs of Harray and Stenness on mainland Orkney. The ring itself, the third biggest in Britain is just one of a number of ancient monuments in the immediate area, including the Ness of Brodgar “ritual centre”, Barnhouse Neolithic Village (which I think is very much like the Ness and not a settlement), The Standing Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe. I love Orkney. The whole archipelago is steeped in continuous history, and I’ve only seen the likes of it in Kilmartin on the West coast in Argyll. The scale of Orkney though. Amazing. 

I actually prefer the first preliminary image here, but that’s just me :-)

The Ness will start it’s first day of excavations tomorrow and will continue for 6 weeks. You can follow the site diary at the link above. 

Rik came to site a few times over the 4 week period and has produced some very interesting pieces of work from him time there.

Cows in a field just above my house, they were extremely inquisitive. 

The Cairns 2014

Well, that was a busy 3 weeks but I’ve enjoyed myself so much. We wrapped up the site on Friday and had an end of dig celebration and sadly it’s now all over for another year. I have 150 photos to organise before I start uploading them. 

This week I will be visiting the Ness of Brodgar but only as a visitor. I’m really looking forward to it. 

June 28th, 2014
Since Wednesday I’ve been working in lovely Structure H with 3 other people. There was a lot of preparation to get the area ready for excavation including pre-excavation photos and clearing back the area and wetting it for those.

We then sectioned of a baulk which included the hearth and will be excavated at a later date. This is not just to save the hearth but also to get better vertical stratigraphy for the structure. We then started excavating the floor deposit of Structure H but we were sampling it at the same time. To make this easier we sectioned areas into 0.5 metre squares and used a checkerboard technique which can be seen in the photos. We will be excavating the the other squares net week. We found plenty of bone, several clay deposits (potential floor remains), a bone pin and a lovely stone bead. 

Since Wednesday I’ve been working in lovely Structure H with 3 other people. There was a lot of preparation to get the area ready for excavation including pre-excavation photos and clearing back the area and wetting it for those.

We then sectioned of a baulk which included the hearth and will be excavated at a later date. This is not just to save the hearth but also to get better vertical stratigraphy for the structure. We then started excavating the floor deposit of Structure H but we were sampling it at the same time. To make this easier we sectioned areas into 0.5 metre squares and used a checkerboard technique which can be seen in the photos. We will be excavating the the other squares net week. We found plenty of bone, several clay deposits (potential floor remains), a bone pin and a lovely stone bead. 

Pictures from some rather lazy lunch times on site this week. It mainly involved us lying down on the grass and dozing and chatting until it was time to head back to work. 

Also included in a picture of Martin looking through an Iron Age loom weight. 

It’s a really fun and exciting site to work on. 

June 24th, 2014

The Cairns: Day 7 

Today started with a bit of dark cloud in the sky I expected to turn to rain however by lunch time there was glorious sun shine and warm breeze. 

New team members, such as myself, we given a site tour. Martin genuinely loves this site and he is so enthusiastic about what The Cairns offers. It was amazing to get to look inside some of the structures as well as learn about them.

After the site tour I was put to work mattocking a newly opened trench, and did this for most of the day. We recovered lots of animals bone from the area as well as a stone tool! However due to the physical strain of mattocking I can feel the muscles in my arms starting to tense up, hopefully a long and very hot shower followed by some muscle rub will keep any pains to a minimum. 

After we had leveled the area we were working on we went back to our section and started troweling back. Here I found a couple of pieces of bones and a potential polished stone. 

Overall another fantastic day excavating, can’y wait to get back tomorrow. 

June 23rd, 2014
I tried an Orkney Buffalo burger with Orkney cheese  while attending some of the free events on the St Magnus Festival on Saturday. 

I tried an Orkney Buffalo burger with Orkney cheese  while attending some of the free events on the St Magnus Festival on Saturday. 

Broch of Gurness and Rousay across the Eynhallow Sound. 

The Cairns: Day Six

(Note: I’ll be dating my posts on The Cairns the same as their dig diary, Day Six is actually my Day One on site.)

I was extremely excited to be starting the Cairns after last summers issues with my Rousay excavation (many contributing factors, not just one big problem). We used the Orkney College minibuses to get to site which was much easier than last years bus, ferry and 2 mile walk, it’s nearly luxury! Once we arrived on site I did the usual task of preparing myself by getting out my tools, knee pads/gloves and putting on my waterproof jacket as there was already a slightly damp feeling in the air. Martin, the site director arrived on site in the second minibus and was slightly concerned by the current weather as well as the forecast however we pressed on into a site update to see what had happened in the past week but as we progressed the weather steadily got worse and he decided to call it a day before any excavation went underway. 

During the site update there was a small tour of the site. I hadn’t visited the cairns before today so I was just blown away by the broch structure. It is absolutely massive and the masonry is just amazing. I was genuinely surprised and fascinated by this site, no wonder people keep coming back to dig here. There’s also numerous other structures across site that are also interesting as well as a newly opened area that may already be producing a wall face. I will be taking my DSLR to site tomorrow to take pictures during my site tour given by Martin. I would seriously recommenced visiting this site if you have chance to in the next 3 weeks, this site is amazing.   

Instead we headed to see some of the Iron Age archaeology that Orkney has to offer. Firstly we visited Grain Earthhouse but since Ortak’s closure the key is now collected from the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palace in the centre of town. Because we were such a large group we had to split into 2 groups, the more claustrophobic of us going in a smaller group. Martin gave us a short lecture about the life and potential uses of the souterrains. We then trotted off to the Broch of Gurness, a first time for me. It’s an absolutely stunning site with amazing archaeology on show. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Orkney. 

Basically, come to Orkney, we have amazing archaeology!!!

June 18th, 2014

The discovery of a submerged plank of oak that could be thousands of years old is being investigated in Orkney.

The 3m-long plank has been discovered in peat on the shoreline of the Bay of Ireland in Stenness and could be important evidence of local native oak.

June 16th, 2014

The Cairns Project reopens today. They’ll be cleaning up the site then cracking on with excavating. I’ll be on site myself next Monday but I’ll be back on Orkney Thursday evening.