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Excavation starts Monday 17th June

We're very excited here at Swandro HQ as we're back on site tomorrow (Monday) morning for the start of our 2024 excavation season, running through until the 9th August. As usual during the dig season we'll be posting daily updates here so you can follow our progress. 

If you follow us on Facebook the link to the newest entry in our dig diary will be posted on our Facebook page each night so you won't miss out. We're hoping for another good year with lots of star finds to share with you - not sure that we'll have anything near as good as this lovely little Iron Age steatite cup:

Steatite (soapstone) cup found in the 2023 excavation at the Knowe of Swandro, Rousay, Orkney

This was carefully excavated by Klaudia, one of our old hands, who hates having her photo taken but was so excited by this find that she happily posed with it:

Steatite (soapstone) cup as found in the 2023 excavation at the Knowe of Swandro, Rousay, Orkney

Running the steatite cup a close second was a massive whale vertebra, one of two set either side of the hearth in one of the rooms of the Iron Age roundhouse. This pic shows it under excavation, with the square stone hearth in the middle. The two whale vertebra had been carefully hollowed out to form sockets to hold uprights supporting a spit across the fire. 

Stone hearth in the Iron Age roundhouse excavated during the 2023 season at the Knowe of Swandro, Rousay, Orkney

Here it is after lifting, you appreciate the size a bit better in this pic, it would have taken a lot of effort to carve it out but once it was set in the ground that would've been it, nice and stable for the next 2,500 years!

Whale vertebra used as a socket to hold an upright over the fire at the excavation at Swandro, Rousay, Orkney

Hopefully the weather is going to improve soon, we've had a bitterly cold spell with winds from the Arctic, followed closely by wet and windy weather in off the Atlantic for a bit of variety. The first week is uncovering the site, shifting not only the sandbags and rock we put down to protect it last year, but also whatever the sea has seen fit to deposit on top. It takes a fair bit of effort to go from looking like this: 

Site at Swandro covered with stone and seaweed looking like this:

Interior of the iron age roundhouse at Swandro, Orkney at the end of the 2023 excavation season

If you are thinking of coming to visit us this year then you'll be very welcome, full details on how to find us can be found here on our website


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