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Winter digging in Orkney or how to build a water feature on your site

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that although we’re calling this the dig diary we’re not actually digging at the moment on account of it being December. The only digging that goes on in an Orkney winter is the stuff that has to be done - commercial archaeology (i.e. construction related) plus emergency rescue of anything that turns up due to coastal erosion. Winter digging is not a great deal of fun – the picture below I took out in Kirkwall in January on an evaluation – and no we weren’t supposed to be building a swimming pool!

The joys of evaluation trenches in Orkney in January
The joys of evaluation trenches in Orkney in January

For my sins your humble dig diary author spent several years digging for the old Dept of Urban Archaeology at the Museum of London. We had a lot of sites in the basements of standing buildings as well as open air sites in the city. In a perverse twist of fate I spent every summer sweltering in a basement & every winter freezing in the open air - & don't even get me started on the winter digging in Heidelberg where our pickaxes struck sparks off the least the beer was cheap!



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