Copper ore and copper objects!

It was Rose's last day today and she went and excelled herself, finding what (we think) is our first chunk of copper ore from the floor inside the Iron Age roundhouse. Thought at first sight that it was a massive copper alloy object - or Cu obj in finds parlance - but when it was lifted it was incredibly heavy and was clearly - to use the technical terminology - a huge chunk of coppery rock stuff:

There's been lots of evidence for metalworking from Swandro in previous seasons of course - for example our world-famous Pictish smithy with the fingermarked anvil

but this is from a different area, although the environmental samples taken from the roundhouse and processed over the winter did have plenty of hammerscale and we've had lots of slag from the same area so they're obviously up to something there. Here's Julie photographing the ore in situ so you can see exactly where it was found from the scale in the photo:


We do know that there's copper ore in Rousay, with one known (historic) mine site on the hill just above and slightly to the south of Westness farm about 2km from Swandro (the British Regional Geology gives the grid ref as 387 285 if you've got an OS map of Rousay handy), so perhaps one of the attractions of Swandro as a settlement site was the local mineral resources? Anyway since it was Rose's find she got to be the one holding the tray so Steve could take a decent photo of it for his records, before it gets whisked away for conservation:



Just outside the roundhouse in the new trench extension the eagle-eyed Elvire spotted this tiny little copper alloy needle - actually found yesterday but I didn't have time to get a decent photo of it:


And if all that wasn't enough, a stone tuyere turned up today - that's the bit that goes round the end of the bellows in the smith's fire to stop the bellows burning, also from the Iron Age roundhouse. We've had them in clay before, but not in stone, although they had steatite (soapstone) examples at Old Scatness in Shetland:

All of which - not to mention the huge quantities of pottery, animal bone, shell and samples - means that our finds hut supremo Hollie is being kept very busy indeed. Sadly, because we keep her pretty much chained to the hut, Hollie doesn't feature in our dig diary very often, so here - for Hollie's mum and partner - she is surrounded by pottery in the inner sanctum:

Also starring in the pic are two of our old kitchen chairs - we got four for a pound at one of the mart's furniture sales and they did sterling service for over a decade till we got new ones in 2013 (well, a bit better quality second hand ones to be precise, off Ebay) but they were too good to throw away so we hung on to them and now they're our finds hut and planning hut chairs - knew they'd come in handy in the end, hate spending money if we don't have to as we've got way more important things to pay for - like the 2020 season for example!

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Swandro - Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust 

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation No: SC047002 

Patron: His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay

Registered office: Bayview Birsay Orkney KW17 2LR   email: info@swandro.co.uk