Now that Spring has finally sprung - it's a bonny day here, bright sun, far too nice to be stuck indoors writing this but needs must - it's time for an update on our plans for the year. First and foremost our 2023 excavation dates will be from the 19th of June until the 11th of August. If you fancy coming along to help all the information about volunteering and the application form is now online.
We will be concentrating on finishing the excavation of the Iron Age roundhouse, which was looking most impressive as we left it last year:
We can only hope that it hasn't suffered too much over the winter months and that our sea of sandbags and tonnes of rock have protected it:
The idea of the sandbags was that they would be a lot easier to lift out at the start of the next season, so speeding up the process of uncovering the site. That's assuming of course that the sea hasn't seen fit to fill in over the top with several more tonnes of stone, which is what we found had happened to the lower part of the site when we got back last year after our enforced pandemic break.
It will be great to get back on site again, looking forward to more exciting finds such as my particular favourite from 2022, Jackie's almost complete Iron Age pot, found with its stone lid still in place just as left by the previous owner:
Other star finds from the 2022 season included not one, but two, extremely rare Iron Age glass toggle beads, examples of which are known from the West of Scotland and Ireland but none previously from Orkney. Some of these beads are made from recycled Roman glass, and, since smelting furnaces and glass slag, in addition to the Roman glass, have been found at Swandro, our toggle beads may have been made on site.
During the 2022 season it became clear that the occupation of the central roundhouse, which continued into the Late Iron Age, appeared to have ended with a deliberate demolition event. The dividing north wall of the passage had been collapsed on to its side, other walls and orthostats (upright stones) had also collapsed and the outer walls of the roundhouse were robbed of their stone. The midden which overlay this layer of destruction contained Viking artefacts, which suggests that this demolition event relates to the arrival of Scandinavian peoples. This collapse can be seen very clearly in the photo below:
As usual in 2023 we will be welcoming visitors to site, so if you're going to be in Orkney during our digging season please do pop along and say hello. Full details on how to find us and how to get to Rousay in the first place are here We look forward to seeing you there!