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Dig diary Thursday 26th July: a possible revetted ditch

We've known for a while that there are other structures underneath our Pictish smithy at Swandro, with a large wall crossing the southern end of the building. The floor of the smithy has now been removed, and a small box section dug into the underlying deposits against the earlier wall, and it's suggestive of the revetment wall of a ditch i.e. a stone lining of the edges of a ditch to stop the ditch filling up with things that wash in from the edges collapsing. The photo is taken looking at the wall from the inside of the Pictish smithy, which would also be the inside of the ditch:

Ditch revetment at Swandro

If this really is a revetted ditch then it's of a type known known from other sites in Orkney and is usually Iron Age in date, and can be found encircling both substantial roundhouses and also ritual sites such as Mine Howe in Tankerness We'll have to wait and see - a ground penetrating radar survey is planned for next year which should answer the question.

We had a special visitor today in the form of our local MSP Liam McArthur, who has taken a keen interest in the excavation and lodged motions of support in the Scottish Parliament:

MSP Liam McArthur visiting Swandro

We have a connection with Liam going back to the Sanday digging days, when site directors Steve & Julie were running the dig at Tofts Ness. Liam's dad Bill McArthur (a very talented artist) rented us a digger's house and used to come past the site for visits, and bring us presents of buckets of fresh crab from his creels, which were very much appreciated. I do also remember one day when he turned up with dire warnings of approaching gales, which led Steve to get us to take down the photographic tower in case of damage - not a simple undertaking as it was an old fashioned scaffolding thing & a huge amount of work to erect in the first place. The gale never appeared though - Orkney weather forecasting being a bit of a dark art even now and 'unpredictable' is the best prediction you can make about it. The crabs were delicious though!

Elsewhere on site MA student Bonnie was laser scanning again, which involves arriving on site at 6am to set up all her gear as she can't have us all wandering around getting in the way of her laser:

Bonnie laser scanning

Apparently if we do walk in front of it then we get cut in half or something, which loses you some marks on your final dissertation. Bonnie also dances a mean Highland Fling!

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