Dig diary Tuesday 24th July: our Pictish smith's handprints are causing a stir!

Swandro was the focus of international media frenzy today when news of the handprints of the Pictish smith on the Swandro anvil got out - OK maybe 'frenzy' is going it a bit, but Radio Orkney did send two of their finest over to do some interviews and also some filming for the BBC news:

Radio Orkney visit Swandro to find out about our Pictish anvil

Elsewhere on site life carried on as before, and lots of interesting new finds appeared, including some a nice piece of worked antler, which looks to have been a shed antler but cut with a metal blade:


Antler burr from Swandro cut with a metal blade

We also had a piece of worked whalebone, again from the Iron age levels:


worked whalebone at Swandro, Rousay

From the badly eroding levels on the seaward side of the tomb came a fine piece of steatite or soapstone, a soft stone from Shetland that can be carved in bowls, plates etc and was used in the Viking period as a pottery substitute. It was also used in the Bronze Age for funerary urns as well as for everyday use, and our piece is from a very big thick walled vessel:


steatite form swandro

It may well be a broken funerary urn, found in the finest Bronze Age cremation burials, some of which are found inserted into the mounds of chambered tombs in Orkney, so steatite around our Neolithic tomb is not totally unexpected. We do have other hints of Bronze Age activity such as the jet-like bead roughout found in 2015. Watch this space!


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