Archaeology The Cairns Dig Diary 2019

The Cairns Day 6 – 2019

The Cairns from above today

Day Six and more from the trenches at The Cairns….

We began today’s excavation in a warm and wet humidity and as the day went on it got wetter with the winds from the sea.

Today everyone had a chance to work on a few areas across the site. I started the day by continuing my work on the South-West extension where I and other diggers further uncovered the stratigraphy of the natural and clay-silt soils. This also allowed us to reveal more of the possible revetment wall which surrounded the central broch wall.

Anthea and Deryck in the SW extension today

Once the South-West area was cleaned over and ready to be photographed and recorded, I moved to the Northern extension to clear up loose rubble. Our group found a number of patches of shells and bones which were then recorded. 

At last, I returned to the South-West extension where myself and three others dug deeper and tidied up a large area with mattocks, shovels and trowels. During this time we found a lot of bone, teeth and shells which highly suggested a midden. This enabled us to imagine the lives of the Iron Age people and led us to discuss what their diets may have consisted of and where their priorities stood.

The groups I was surrounded by throughout the day seemed to have all found something small whether that would be bones, shells or stone tools, which meant a lot to them, a successful day for all, I’d say.

The little yellow glass bead found by Ursula today, well spotted indeed.

In the grand scheme of discoveries, however, the glass bead that was found slightly South of Structure K in the village settlement, from ashy soils there, must be the find of the day. The bead is a small annular pale yellow one. Ursula found it in the Area Q just to the south of Structure K. This brings the total of glass beads found on site to seven.

A close up on the little glass bead

And a common theme in Archaeology when finding something new, is creating a hypothesis only to discover something an hour later which changes everything. Today this occurred when Anthea discovered what seemed to be a curved wall in the South-West extension of Structure J. The conclusions were looking simple until she discovered there was a hole under the upper course of wall in which she could put her hand and arm in. Now it is up for discussion as a fallen slab, broken wall or cupboard/“cubby-hole”.  Only time spent excavating over the next couple of days will tell…

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