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Dig Diary 8th July Swandro Sunday Success!

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

Great fun on site today with our Living History reenactors in full swing, and we would like to start by thanking the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players for our 'Sharing Heritage' grant which has enabled the presence of our Living History reenactors on site and at special events during the 2018 excavation.

Vikings anyone? Come to Swandro - we've got 'em!
Vikings anyone? Come to Swandro!

Although I'm going to get a stern lecture from them on the peaceful aspects of Viking life - admit I did make two of them pose for this photo, there were lots of peaceful Viking crafts & pursuits on display too, ranging from chess and hnefatafl sets:

chess and hnefatafl at Swandro

Strictly speaking it's only polite to use the term 'Norse' after about 1065, as Viking really means raider, and by the 11th century they were supposedly settled down & weren't doing that sort of thing anymore. According to the Orkneyinga Saga however Svein Asleifarson was still going on Viking raids in the 12th century, so there were some that hadn't settled down all that much.

Anyway whether you call them Viking or Norse they were a dab hand at carving items from bone and horn, as in this fine collection of pins and combs:

bone combs and pins at swandro

Mind you, it's always good to have your helmet, knives and axes handy:

helmets, horns and axes at Swandro

Plenty of choice of raw materials to carve here, along with the very necessary drinking horn. it's impossible to hold a proper drinking contest out of a cup or goblet - it's just not right:

antlers, red deer skin and horns

We had plenty of visitors who enjoyed both their site tours and demonstrations and the weather even held out for us - we'd been worried in the morning as the hot, dry spell broke but it dried up before we started on site, so luckily all our furs and hides were ok.

Viking/Norse Living History
Some of our visitors enjoying their Living History

And although everyone enjoys the Vikings, we mustn't forget the Neolithic -

Neolithic display at Swandro
Some of the Neolithic display on site today

- and one of the Neolithic re-enactors was giving site tours too - that's a hide poncho & leggings based on those worn by Otzi the iceman although I bet Otzi didn't give site tours!

site tour from one of our Neolithic re-enactors at Swandro
Site tours from Otzi the iceman's Orcadian cousin

The archaeology is also progressing nicely, here the core material of the chambered tomb is showing up very well, not sure what's going on with the slanty rubble at the left, it's obviously collapse from something, but from what has yet to be decided.

The outer wall of the chambered tomb at swandro

A number of our visitors today were heard to remark 'that's the bones lady!' when they say our Jackie McKinley of Time Team fame hard at work - we're thinking of getting her to charge for autographs or selfies as a fund raising wheeze. She's cleaning up for a photo shot here, but will be imparting her expertise on Saturday at our special event in the Rousay school

Jackie McKinley from the Time Team at Swandro
Area outside the tomb looking pristine ready for its close up

All in all a very satisfactory Swandro Sunday, and we would like to again thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for its Sharing heritage grant which has enabled the presence of Living History reenactors and special events throughout the dig season.


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