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Dig diary Tuesday 25th July 2017

Firstly apologies for the absence of a dig diary yesterday: we had lots of Open Day pictures ready to go but we had no internet connection. This is a bit of an occupational hazard here – Orkney has the dubious distinction of being top of the list of places in Scotland with the slowest internet connection (Shetland came second), and when you’re a long way from the telephone exchange like we are, the problems can be worse. We’ve got a very patchy connection tonight so I’m writing this fast before it goes down again.

We had a great Open Day and thank you so much to everyone who came out to visit us –the 10.45am boat from Tingwall on Sunday was full, and most of them were coming over to visit us and a lot of folk from Rousay too – we had about 180 folk down to see us.

We had our Viking re-enactors Keith & Alan on site demonstrating lots of (peaceful) Viking skills: making tools out of whalebone, playing hnefatafl (a Viking board game), that kind of thing.

Viking re-enactors at the Swandro,Orkney open day

Keith’s got some nice bits of whalebone to take back with him – a dead whale washed up near the site last year & he buried bits of it so he could dig them up this year to take home with him – you don’t really want to drive all the way back to Wolverhampton with a wiffy whalebone in the back of the van.

Trust me – I’ve driven up from the beach to our house with a dead porpoise in the back of the Landy & that was only four miles & I nearly choked on the fumes even with all the windows open, and it was a pretty well-rotted porpoise at that.

In case you’re wondering why I wanted a dead porpoise, it was for my man’s reference collection – he being an osteoarchaeologist (human bone specialist) you need lots of bones from non-humans to compare the human bone with if you’re not quite sure what you’ve got. You be amazed how many times the police get phoned up by folk on holiday who find a decayed seal’s flipper on the beach & think they’ve found a severed human hand.

Living with an osteoarchaeologist can be interesting – we went on holiday to Dartmoor once and the moor there is covered with dead animals – we came back with two Dartmoor ponies, a sheep, three foxes, and a calf - other folk just bring back a tea towel from their hols but where’s the fun in that!


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