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Steatite and whetstones

Back on site today after the torrential downpours of yesterday to be pleasantly surprised as to how little water there was in our trench, nothing that a bit of baling and sponge mopping couldn't easily deal with, then it was on with work as normal under brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies.

There's more substantial stone slabs coming through, looks like quite a nice paved surface, with some remnants of walling, although no sign of decent Viking midden yet, which is what we're really after as that's likely to have material that can be radiocarbon dated to clarify the sequence on the Viking/Norse longhouses on the Swandro mound. We did however have our first piece of Viking steatite, commonly known as soapstone from its greasy texture, a nice piece of bowl with the tool marks visible:

There's no source of steatite in Orkney but is found in Shetland and was extensively quarried there during the Viking/Norse period, you also get steatite imported from Norway. Shortly after the steatite we also had a whetstone, not very photogenic and a bit rough and ready but not bad:

Meanwhile our surveyors have been hard at it putting in the site grid, I'm not entirely sure what has just been said to Gavin to get such a surprised look on his face, perhaps he was being complimented on his stylish hat, who knows?

Anyway they had it done by the end of the day and the weather continued sunny, although the cleg/klegg count is getting higher and much mutual swatting was going on, taking care obviously to not accidentally swat anyone whilst holding a mattock.


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