Archaeology The Cairns Dig Diary 2017

The Cairns Day Six 2017

'Trench Q' where we suspect more village buildings lie
Trench Q where we suspect more village buildings lie

Today started out a bit wet, resulting in our spending some of the morning in the shelter of our hard-won site Portacabin, having a look at some of the nicer and most archetypal finds from previous seasons.

This was a good introduction for those new to the site or to excavation in general, as well as recidivists like myself who’ve been at the Cairns before but can always learn something from a refresher – not to mention the added motivation in seeing examples of some of the fascinating and beautiful things that presumably still remain to be found!

The weather cleared up after lunch and we resumed our work from last week in the sunshine.  In Trench Q, the cleaning back of the surface area continued with mattocks complementing trowels today as we carry on searching for more evidence of the village complex around the broch, with lots of animal bone still coming up in this layer as well as a nice piece of antler.

A pig incisor
A pig incisor

Charlotte and I continued working to expose and define the structure of the furnace and establish its relationship to the surrounding structures and the nearby metalworking area in Trench M.  Patches of rubble were removed and samples were taken of the soil surrounding the articulated animal bone meticulously excavated by Charlotte last week. Meanwhile, those working in the new trench extension removed some rubble to reveal more of the outer wall face of the broch and pushed on with cleaning back to characterise the deposits in that area.

We hope this will reveal, among other things, the shape and size of the presumed cut for the construction of broch, which would tell us a great deal about the scope of the builders’ original intentions for the site.  A nice piece of boar tusk was found in the far corner of the site where Hannah and Peter have been looking for evidence of the ditch that has been hinted at by geophysical survey and test-pitting around the site.

Woody and Alex recording the rough paving and organic deposits inside the western half of the brochAnd in the broch itself, Woody and Alex prepared to draw a plan of the current interior surface, as some of the structure’s internal divisions start to show themselves in the form of orthostats peeking out through the rubble.

So steady progress being made and with the weather looking more reasonable for the remainder of the week, hopefully our efforts in cleaning back across much of the site will soon be rewarded with some exciting revelations.

The southwest extension under excavation
The South-West Extension under excavation

This blog post was written by Therese McCormick, field archaeologist, and former MSc Student with the UHI Archaeology Institute

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