Apologies for the non-appearance of yesterday's dig diary, due to our web server crashing, but to make up for it here's both yesterday's and todays rolled into one. Yesterday marked the start of proper excavation, as opposed to endless stone hoicking, and, having been rained off the day before, it was a nice change to have blue skies and sunshine for once:
It was Alice's first day back on site too, having taken time out from her full time job as a field archaeologist south, she's been with the project from the start, and is the yellow jacket on the left in this pic:
It now looks like we have a site again, and we started removing some of the overlaying rubble in 2019's trench extension, exposing more collapsed Iron Age walling. We also had Karla, another of our 2019 American students, back on site, albeit without her luggage.
Poor Karla also had a nightmare journey from the USA with extensive delays and cancelled flights, but everyone chipped in and provided spare items of clothing so she could get on site. Today was a day off, but we came over to do a rubbish run and bring the site Landrover back for a shopping trip - food, another bed, planks, more signboards etc etc , just the usual when you're trying to dig in an island - and sharing our cabin on the way over we spotted Karla's bag, which had taken three days to get here from Edinburgh:
Rang Julie to tell her to tell Karla we'd drop it off, only to find that the airline had told Karla she had to go to Kirkwall airport to collect it, so she'd gone over on an earlier boat and got two buses out there. We did drop it off for her so it ended well after all, but there does seem to be a breakdown in communication somewhere or other.
We had a mini digger on site today, clearing some of the metre thick rubble bank that the sea has dumped over our own 2019 backfill. We have an estimated 10 tonnes of material which shouldn't be there, a complete nightmare to clear by hand, and thankfully the HES Inspector in charge of our scheduled monument agreed and has given permission to machine the extra off.
The digger driver is none other than Hrolf, who is also one of the skippers of the boat, and he got onto site with great skill along our path. Who knew that we'd built it the exact width of his digger treads:
He then took it up over the bank to the shore, staying well clear of the scheduled area:
Then along the beach to the bottom of the shore below site, and commenced to carefully scrape away the overburden of beach stone.
All carefully monitored of course, we laid protective membrane, sandbags and stone over this area of the site in 2019, so it's easy enough to tell where you have to machine off to:
Hrolf will be on site tomorrow again so hopefully by the time we get back on Wednesday there'll be ten tonnes of stone less for us to shift by hand!