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Shopping, saddle querns & sandbags

Started the day with a quick run into Kirkwall to grab some essential shopping for our hard working students and pick up a few odds & ends for site, before rushing off for the boat. Didn't really factor in a couple of points, such as how to get four big bags of shopping, along with regular site gear etc into a vehicle along with a greyhound who has been known to speed eat a loaf of bread in 30 seconds (including time taken to tear the wrapping off), plus also how heavy shopping is when you have to carry it onto a boat. At least when we got there Star did a very passable impersonation of a greyhound who is absolutely innocent and is in no way contemplating helping herself to anything at all, especially not the cheese...

She's certainly starting to adapt to life as a site dog, she has her routine sorted, first a quick paddle (although I think she's a bit annoyed that we partially drained her pond yesterday), followed by a lot of sleeping, interspersed with cuddles and occasional treats.

Work to clear the Iron Age roundhouse is well underway, lots of stone hoicking again as usual, but also the messier task of shifting sandbags from around the edges. Unfortunately a lot had burst since they were only meant to last for a year, not three, and also when I say sand I really mean sieved spoil from the site which had got wet and turned into soggy clayey sludge.

We have had our first small find though - wandering around the storm beach we turned up a nice chunk of saddle quern, which had been reused, possibly as an anvil, it was certainly pock marked on the grinding surface. It's quite battered by the waves, and must have eroded out of a section of the site which has already been destroyed. It's not very photogenic, but it is certainly very tactile, and also really heavy, Steve (Dockrill, site co-director) certainly liked it:

We managed to find time to get the site information boards up, complete with new Orkney flags, this is the first day this week that it's been calm enough to get them out on site:

Just as well as we've had a steady stream of visitors all day, keeping Julie on the hop to meet and greet them all, at least it's been dry and even sunny for a while.

The boat over was busy today, the MV Shapinsay is on the run for the summer, and has a much bigger capacity for vehicles than the Eynhallow, which normally does the route. There's been a bit of a controversy over this locally, as the Shapinsay (as you might imagine from the name) normally does the Kirkwall to Shapinsay run, but it's been replaced by the Thorsvoe for the summer to give Rousay a bigger boat to meet demand, in a move unpopular with the people of Shapinsay but popular with the Rousay folk and visitors. It does mean that a lot more folk will be able to come over and see Swandro, which is fine by us. Hopefully tomorrow will be another busy day!


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