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Dig diary 30th June - coastal erosion over the winter worse than expected

Our worst fears were confirmed yesterday when work on uncovering the entrance passageway to our chambered tomb. A huge amount of stone had been deposited by the sea over the winter, and it looks like much of the lower casement wall of the tomb has been lost to the sea over the winter:

The entrance passageway to the chambered tomb at Swandro, Rousay emerging from its winter covering
The entrance passageway to the chambered tomb emerging from its winter covering

It was pretty obvious when we arrived on site this year that there'd been a lot of change in the storm beach overlying part of the site - it was really steep and abrupt, with a lot of huge chunks of stone scattered about that looked suspiciously like structural stone from the tomb - looks like it was. All the more reason that we need to get to the tomb as soon as possible before the sea takes the rest.

On a slightly more cheerful note, tomorrow is our very first 'Swandro Sunday' when we're arranging a mini open day with a free bus from the pier to encourage as many visitors as possible to come across. Chris Gee is doing some Neolithic stone carving for us, and we're also having Neolithic themed Living History displays. Should be interesting and hopefully fun too - the weather forecast is perfect - dry & sunny, which is just as well since we've been too busy to put up the site tent!

Just took delivery of a knocking stone to take across as part of a display on grain processing - 18th/19th century rather than Neolithic, but a technology that didn't change much in Orkney over the course of the last few millennia. Basically you take a huge sandstone boulder, hollow it out a bit, and then put your barley in it & pound it up:

It's a bit heavier than anticipated but I'm sure once we get it in a barrow we can wheel it out to site - hope all the diggers have eaten their porridge so they're feeling fit & strong!


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