The Cairns Day Day Sixteen 2017

The top of the revetment wall emerges in the broch terrace cut
The top of the revetment wall emerges in the broch terrace cut

Today started a little wet and windy but the rain quickly lifted off as we discussed the site and the strategy for the final week on site.

We have a slightly smaller team for this week (although there are still over twenty of us on site, nevertheless) and while we have lots to do and both final recording, and back-fill sessions to undertake, these processes can sometimes work all the more smoothly and efficiently with a compact team.

For the remainder of the digging days this week we will concentrate on the broch interior, finishing the souterrain deposits, and a little more work in the south-west extension.

 

The little cache of winkle shells immediately under one of the late floor slabs in the broch
The little cache of winkle shells immediately under one of the late floor slabs in the broch

 

Inside the broch as we began to lift the paving from around the late hearth slab, we found that the deposits beneath are incredibly rich in organics; charcoal, burnt bone, shell fragments and a little fishbone.  This deposit looks very similar, (and just as rich), as some of the upper deposits inside the broch that we have previously excavated in the eastern zone.  It’s actually quite comforting to see these familiar deposits and very much encourages us to think that we are dealing with layers of a similar age across the broch interior.  Moreover, the richness of this deposit will ultimately yield lots of information about the use of the broch, in its latter stages.  Under one of the slabs that was lifted, a very discrete, perfectly preserved cache of peri-winkle shells was revealed directly underneath.  This little group was so discrete and so close to the surface as to encourage the idea that it had been made just before this slab was set down, maybe even as a little foundation deposit under the slab floor.

In the south-west extension work carried on in the terrace cut and we have established that there is indeed a revetment wall, partly lining the cut in the natural, and partly extending out from the cut towards the direction of the broch outer wall itself.  It looks like this revetment may be part of the measures to hold back the natural boulder clay from slumping into the area of the ‘extramural settlement’ or village around the broch.  It may even also turn out to be a wall of one of the village buildings itself.

Tomorrow we’ll be excavating some of the earlier broch floor deposits in the eastern zone of the broch.  We’ll keep you posted as to how that goes and what we find!

Martin Carruthers.