Dig Diary 28th June: Day Saved By Doughnuts!

Another sweltering hot day in Rousay - weather set like this for another few days according to the Met office. Since the chambered tomb mound had to be laser scanned, which meant nobody in the way of the scanner, we started the day by walking out to show the students the site of the Westness Pictish and Viking cemetery excavation by Norwegian archaeologist Sigrid Kaland in the 1960s. That done, it was time to instruct the students in the finer points of safe and efficient tool use - there's more to loading a wheelbarrow than meets the eye! Here they all are paying close attention to Lindsay, particularly to his dire warnings about what would happen to anyone who breached spoil heap protocol!

Following spoil heap protocol is very important

The heat was beginning to be quite oppressive, so morning tea break was a relief, especially when an urgent text message arrived from the boys on the boat - aka the crew of the MV Eynhallow, the car ferry that links Rousay to the Mainland - that there was a urgent delivery of doughnuts coming over courtesy of friend of the dig Andrew Appleby. These went down very well at lunchtime - hungry diggers can make short work of sugary treats:

On site the work clearing the Pictish smithy of last year's backfill is complete, and with an eye on health & safety the trench edge is now sporting a very fine set of traffic cones, road irons and blue rope - you can't use barrier tape or mesh at Swandro, the wind just tears it to shreds almost immediately.

Our stylish road cone accessories

Operations have now moved to the entrance to the chambered tomb, with a serious amount of backfilling stone to be removed all by hand - no mechanical aids possible. The it will be on to deturfing the new area, again all by hand.

Hard at work clearing stone

We did have some mechanical help today when a tractor bearing gifts arrived - no not more doughnuts, but a 1,000 litre water cube and pallets to stand it on, courtesy of our friend Robert - being at the bottom of a hill a long way from anywhere means we have no running water, and we need water for finds processing, and in this weather spraying the sections in the Pictish smithy with water to stop them drying out too much.

Water cube arriving

All in all a good day's work, and there were even some doughnuts left as a snack to get us back up the hill from site!

  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Visit our YouTube channel
  • Follow us on Instagram

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