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Dig Diary Tuesday 4th July – tropically hot in Rousay

First off - Happy 4th of July to all our American diggers – I’d like to say we gave them all the day off with lots of cake and hot dogs, but I’d be lying: we sent them down to the storm beach at Swandro and made them all slave away in the boiling hot sun all day, shifting tons & tons of stone. It’s the thought that counts though!

It has been a gloriously hot day, the kind of Orkney summer day that makes you forget all about the Atlantic gales that come hammering in with unfailing regularity, and the enthusiastic team has been making good progress in uncovering the site.

Clearing backfill from the terram membrane protecting the site at Swandro, Orkney
Clearing backfill from the terram membrane protecting the site

Work has also concentrated on uncovering the protective membrane over the edge of the chambered tomb and the passage way: unfortunately as we started to uncover this we’ve made a sad discovery – it looks like the sea has taken a lot of the lower wall of the tomb over the winter. This has been happening every winter – the storm beach looks undisturbed, but the waves roll the boulder beach round and round and scour the underlying archaeology. We won’t know how much damage has been done until we have it all uncovered, every year it gets worse – unless we can raise the money we need to dig this site properly soon it won’t be there at all.

Hard & dirty work uncovering the site at Swandro, Orkney
Hard & dirty work uncovering the site

On a more cheery note the infill of Structure 3 (the Pictish cellular building) has been emptied and the protective membrane has been fully exposed. Hopefully tomorrow we can get this all cleaned up and ready for visitors.

Everyone’s worked really hard today, but hopefully they’re all feeling bit better after a few cold beers and are ready for tomorrow!


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