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Dig diary Tuesday 31st July: still backfilling!

Hard at it all day shifting all those tonnes of stone by hand together with sandbags & trying to control the terram protective membrane which was flapping about in the Orkney wind.

Entrance to the tomb at Swandro - backfilling begins

It's usually windy in Orkney and if you;re doing something that really needs it not to be windy - like trying to unroll long sheets of terram - then it's pretty much guaranteed to be very windy. We've also filled several hundred sandbags to strengthen walls and section edges before we fill them in with stone. The sandbags are rubble sacks from our local industrial suppliers - we use them double bagged for our environmental samples, and seal them with cable ties either way. I think the folk in the shop think we're mad - over the course of the dig we've bough 621 of them - the 21 was all that was left of the last box they had - they're now awaiting another shipment, so apologies to anyone in Orkney who needs to move any actual rubble in the next week or so!

We had a strange green visitor today - not ET, but this rather splendid caterpillar, which came strolling across the grass when we were having tea, luckily I had a photographic scale handy - those are centimetres divisions so you can see how huge he/she/it is:

Swandro caterpillar

First time that scale's been used to photo anything less than 1,000 years old - the caterpillar was given a ride to a nice patch of dockans and grass out of the blazing sun. We've got quite a little nature reserve here, what with seals, bonxies (great skuas), artic skuas, eider ducks. Pity we've not seen a whale yet passing through Eynhallow Sound but we might yet, still a few days to go, if our tired backs & aching limbs hold out that long!

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