Here we are in February and Orkney is in the grip of Storm Doris – a westerly gale Force 8 gusting Storm Force 10 – and I can’t help thinking once again that I don’t know who picks these names but that ‘Doris’ doesn’t really do it for me. It’s not even as if you can jazz it up: ‘Doris the Destroyer of Worlds’ just sounds silly, & anyway Storm Force 10 isn’t that bad if you’re safely on dry land, even if there was nearly a mass revolt on the dog walk front this morning with the pack trying repeatedly to head back indoors.
Just hope that no more of the site has washed away overnight, but you can’t really tell for sure what damage has been done at Swandro until the storm beach is removed at the start of the dig each year. Waves have huge energy, and they can roll the storm beach round and round, almost like a gigantic washing machine effect: it looks ok on the surface but it’s scoured away more of the archaeology underneath.
Since we’re not digging at the moment here’s a nice little treat from a previous year: a coin of EANRED who was King of Northumbria in the first half of the ninth century AD.
This was found in the very top fill of the entrance passageway to the Neolithic chambered tomb and has been discussed with the experts who are happy to see this (in the context of the Northern Isles) as a Viking Age deposit.
The Orkneyinga Saga doesn’t give you a lot of detail for the 9th century, apart from a claim that around 874AD ‘King Harald Fair-Hair sailed west to punish the vikings … for they harried in Norway during the summer, but spent the winter in Shetland or the Orkneys’. Presumably any 9th century Orkney Vikings were quite capable of harrying Northumbria with the best of them, hence our little coin of Eanred!