Working in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, you soon develop a healthy respect for the weather. It has the habit of reversing a trend pretty rapidly and frustrating all your best-laid plans. One day may be bright and sunny and the next, driving snow.
Despite everyone’s best intentions, it was obvious by around 9.00am on Day Two that the dig could not continue. The whole area took on the characteristics of a well-shaken snow globe as the cold combined with the snow to make conditions impossible. Health and safety issues became paramount so the team decided that discretion was the better part of valour and retreated back to a snug cottage to analyse the results from Day One.
Day three, however, dawned cold and only slightly cloudy allowing the team to progress well with the dig. Community volunteers arrived and soon the plan for the day was in place.
A few people have asked, “How do we know where to dig?” It’s a good question. In the past archaeologists had to trust to luck to a certain extent, but nowadays we have technology on our side in the shape of geophysics. This technology gives us a map of ‘anomalies’ which with an experienced eye can be interpreted to give an indication where to place a trench.
Martin explains the geophysics in this short video….
The Swartigill excavation is a joint community project involving the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and Yarrows Heritage Trust.