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Dig Diary Tuesday 11th July 2017

Another great day here in Rousay, hot and sunny yet again, we’re getting spoilt by the weather. I mean look at this picture taken looking out across the site over Eynhallow Sound, with Costa Head in the West Mainland in the background:

You’d think we were somewhere tropical, not 59 degrees North, on the same latitude as St Petersburg and Labrador! That's the entrance passageway to the chambered tomb in the foreground.The arrival of Jackie McKinley (another old Orkney hand taking her holiday to be with us, an osteoarchaeologist by trade) saw the exposure of the top collapse of rubble into the chambered cairn and area in front of the cairn.

We’ve also had our archaeometallurgist Dr Gerry McDonnell on site today, Gerry carried out a detailed survey of the floor in order to ascertain if the building had concentrations of hammer scale from iron working.

Smithy at Swandro, survey of the floor
Survey of the metalworking building floor by Gerry McDonnell

Jackie’s speciality is cremation burials – she’s probably the world’s leading expert on archaeological cremations, but you don’t generally get cremated bone in chambered tombs in Orkney, it’s usually inhumations (i.e. just normal burials). Cremations in Orkney’s chambered tombs are usually Early Bronze Age – there were a series of cremations and cists inserted into both the entrance passageway and the upper chamber at the remodelled chambered tomb at Taversoe Tuick here in Rousay. It would be good if we did have some undisturbed cremations in the passageway here too – it might indicate that the chamber itself is undisturbed, but we’ll have to wait and see!

Just to finish with, here’s a nice pic of yesterday morning’s site tour for the diggers by Julie, one of the site directors:

It’s very important to keep everyone up to date with what’s happening on site – it’s easy to get stuck in your own little corner and miss something somewhere else.


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