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Hearths and hone stones

Double dig diary today covering Monday and Tuesday, two completely contrasting days weather-wise: Monday tropically hot and sunny, followed by a miserably wet and misty Tuesday. On Monday we were giving the newly unwrapped areas a good clean, and Alan was paying special attention to the large smelting hearth which we uncovered right at the end of last season:

This is going to be sampled for archaeomagnetic dating this week, following which it will be lifted for specialist analysis by our archaeometallurgist Dr Gerry McDonnell so we can find out exactly what was being smelted there. Unfortunately Gerry can't make it to Orkney this year, but through the wonders of modern technology and an excellent 4G signal he was able to have a closer look via video calling with a running commentary by Alan and Julie. Gerry pointed out the similarities to a hearth he worked on from the site of Mine Howe in Tankerness, which had the same chunky blocks of stone lining it along with clay, one of which you can see in the picture just in front of Alan's hand:

The heat did get a bit much for everyone, Daisy had the best idea snoozing the afternoon away in her nice little improvised sun shelter:

Today we started on shifting the sandbags out of structure 5, and it pretty much rained on us all day, sometimes heavy rain and sometimes light rain, but consistently wet and miserable. It's hard and heavy work but at least the sandbags are fairly comfortable when you just really need a break:

Meanwhile work continued over in Trench F, where Keith had the star find of the day, a nice little hone stone from our probably Viking period flagged area:

Keith declared it the nicest he's ever seen, sadly broken in the middle but maybe he'll find the other half tomorrow, which will be a lot more interesting than all the sandbags which we're going to be shifting over on the beach side of the site.


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