Swandro Dig Diary: Racing Against Time and Tide
By Team Swandro, Nov 7 2017 08:09PM
In a tribute to environmental archaeologists everywhere - especially our revered and esteemed site director Julie whose birthday it is today – we will in this diary entry attempt the impossible – to make sorting environmental residues sound interesting!
The late Janet Ambers once sent a copy of 'the Ambers ready letter for overworked archaeologists' to the dig at Pool in Sanday (a version of the cards that were issued to troops in the 1st World War, cross out the lines that don't apply e.g. 'I am well/slightly wounded/ in hospital; please send socks/soap/chocolate etc). I remember a couple of sections which went something along the lines of:
Wish you were here/ here instead of me/ Harrison Ford
Please send wine/whisky/Harrison Ford
(This was back in 1983 – Raiders of the Lost Ark had been a big hit & Mr Ford was a lot younger & better looking then –we also had a site van with a broken wing mirror with a photo of Harrison Ford taped on there in its place).
There was also a bit of an in-joke:
We have found F**k all/treasure/some extremely interesting environmental remains
By Team Swandro, Oct 20 2017 03:13PM
Welcome back for Part 2 of our occasional series on the background to the dig – this week: how to dig a chambered tomb the James Farrer way.
James Farrer (MP for South Durham) was an antiquarian very active in Orkney in the mid-19th century, which is to say he was an enthusiastic mound-howker. Nowadays of course you can't just go around hacking holes in unsuspecting mounds on a whim, but back then there was nothing to stop you, all you needed was the landowner's permission and off you went. Sadly, although Farrer was an enthusiastic excavator, this wasn't matched by an enthusiasm for publication, and we have no idea of the final total of mounds he opened without record.
By Team Swandro, Aug 19 2017 05:42PM
Since we’re not digging at the moment I thought this might be a good time to catch you all up on some of the background to the dig, so that when we come back (hopefully – subject to funding) next July you’ll all be up to speed and ready to dive right in to the regular dig diary.
If we were still on site we wouldn’t be digging today anyway as it’s a Saturday, so if it helps you can pretend we’re still digging but this is our day off – puts me in mind of seeing a Motörhead gig many years ago when they’d just had The Bomber stolen - the inimitable Lemmy announced that even if the Bomber hadn’t been stolen they wouldn’t have been able to get it in as the hall as was too small, so we should just imagine that it was parked up on the lorry outside:
You may need to work with me on this one!
Anyway back to the archaeology – as regular readers will know one of the most threatened parts of the site is our Neolithic chambered tomb
By Team Swandro, Aug 6 2017 06:31PM
Another glorious sunny day here in Orkney, pity the dig’s over for 2017 and we’re not able to take advantage of all this nice weather. Avid readers of this diary will remember that I promised you full details on the identification of our Roman coin when we had them.
By Team Swandro, Aug 2 2017 07:19PM
Well that’s all folks – a sad day for us all leaving Rousay on the boat for the last time in 2017
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we watched this magical little island receding in the wake of the MV Eynhallow