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Dig diary Sunday 16th July 2017

It’s been a special day for two of our experienced diggers Tom and Alice – they celebrated their birthdays on site with the aid of a delicious birthday cake made for them by Kate Friel, the 13-year-old daughter of supervisor Bobby – thank you Kate it was yummy!

A bit of a blustery day today at Swandro with intermittent sharp squalls in between the sunshine, but work carried on regardless. Last day on site for Sarah, a professional archaeologist in past years and now the archaeology subject librarian at the University of Bradford, returns home tomorrow evening. She managed a good mornings digging before catching the last ferry from Rousay today.

The biggest excitement today though was the arrival of Alan Braby - Scotland's premier archaeological illustrator. Alan has worked in Shetland and Orkney for over 30 years – if you’ve read any book on Scottish archaeology in that period you can almost guarantee that you’re seen some of his illustrations. His drawing skills were put to good use with the elevation of the passage wall of our Pictish smithy:

I have fond memories of working with Alan in Sanday and Lewis all those years ago - I particularly remember him falling out of my Land Rover. I know what you’re thinking, but neither of us had touched a drop of drink – it was a simple misunderstanding: we were driving up to a gate & he’d got into the habit at a previous dig (where they also had a Landy) of opening the passenger door when the vehicle was still moving & half standing on the side step, before jumping down as the vehicle slowed & opening the gate. Unfortunately my Landy was ex-Army & they hadn’t paid the extra for the side step, so he stepped out onto a step that wasn’t there – I can still see the look on his face...


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