Dig diary 10th July bone combs and photo cleaning

Our star find of the day is this little piece of bone comb, complete with rivet and probably Viking, but we won't be able to say for sure until we have the rivet analysed.


The Vikings were remarkably keen on their combs, popular items of kit for both men and women and often found as grave goods in high-status Viking burials. They come in lots of different styles, and we're lucky in that Alan, one of our Living History re-enactors, is a dab hand at bone carving and makes his own, as seen here on display at site:


Replica Viking combs courtesy of our Living History re-enactors

Here's Meg modelling one of Alan's hand carved combs - she was wondering if Viking women perhaps used their combs to hold their hair up in a knot behind like this:


Don't see why not - it's still a fashionable way to hold up long hair today.

Having re-enactors on-site does make for some interesting photos opportunities, as the diggers lend a hand loading up the gear at the end of the day - I think they secretly enjoy it, makes a change from putting wheelbarrows away:


Although how many spears do you need really - I think this is a bit of overkill:


We've also got extra help on sit in the shape of our archaeometalurgist Dr Gerry McDonnell who arrived safely after a long drive of about 600 miles and two ferries, and got straight back to work in his beloved Pictish smithy:


Gerry 3-D locating yet another find from the smithy

He's bringing his portable X-ray fluorescence machine on-site tomorrow to further investigate the floor of the smithy.

We finished off the day with a massive photo clean so we could get some decent shots of progress so far. Up to now the photos have been difficult as it's been so sunny that there's too much glare and shadows and the surfaces dry out too quick, but the weather's turned damp and cool, overcast so very good for photography. Lyndsey's been happily out & about with his photogrammetry array:


And finally - good news - the missing doughnuts turned up on site so we had them for morning tea break - thanks again to our benefactor Andrew Appleby:


I must confess that I actually had two - well someone had to sample them when they came down to site to make sure that they were still fit for human consumption & I am the official HSE qualified first aider with a certificate & everything so I felt it my duty to take one for the team and test them out. Then I had to have another one at tea break time to double check that they hadn't deteriorated in the meantime. Just doing my job!

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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