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Kubienas and Querns

You may be wondering just what exactly a woodworking bench, a mitre saw and a square plastic downpipe being sawn into short lengths has to do with archaeology, and no, this isn't one of the pub quiz questions from last week (which incidentally team Swandro won):

The answer is simple when you know it: home made kubiena tins for soil sampling (named after Walter Kubiëna, a distinguished soil micromorphologist, who I think must've invented them). Anyway they're little aluminium tins with a removable top and bottom that you press into the surface that you're sampling to take a solid chunk out, which then goes off to the lab to be thin sectioned and analysed by the specialist. They're surprisingly hard to get hold of, but a bit of judicious Googling came up with an excellent little free publication by English Heritage on Environmental Archaeology which suggested using square plastic guttering as an alternative, no sooner said than done and worked a treat, aided by a nice square of wood and a mallet to press then evenly into the ground.

Elsewhere on site Alice and Poppy were cleaning up the section in Trench D on the beach, Alice's hand is resting on a nice round stone that looks suspiciously like a broken quernstone which appears to have been reused as a building stone:

We had a fair few visitors today, including Fionn McArthur who was visiting us to film on behalf of Orkney.com here being given a site tour by Jackie, he had his drone up later on so hopefully got some good shots, we had just cleaned it all up for a photo when he got here so everything was looking its best:

Julie was meantime getting on with the recording, Alice assisting with the Munsell book, which everyone used to use for recording soil colour, but is increasingly rare these days (invented by Albert Henry Munsell, an American painter and art teacher, who wanted an organised way of defining colours).

Tomorrow we'll be removing lots of rubble and flooring now it's all recorded so should be an interesting day, nothing like a bit of heavy lifting to get the blood flowing first thing in the morning!


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