Site Director Martin Carruthers takes up the story of the successful Open Day at the excavation….
Well today was the open day on site and the decision we made to slightly postpone the open day really paid-off as we basked in sunshine and blue skies all day!
The visitors seemed to really enjoy the experience of making their way around the site, witnessing the massive broch and the other buildings, hearing from us about the findings and looking at some of the fascinating artefacts; pottery, stone tools, metalwork, glass beads and fragments, and large volumes of animal bone. As well as showing the fruits of our labours, we also had a demonstration of a little light metalworking going on from Fiona Sanderson, who showed our students and other diggers how to go about it, and our own Carnegie Trust scholarship student Paul was also performing some experimental metalworking!
Lots of the team were involved in the open day, leading tours, and explaining what is happening across the site however, even in the midst of the festive atmosphere of the open day excavation progress continued.
In Bobby’s area the northern wall of Structure O was further traced and its outer face, in particular, came nicely into view, reminding us of the solid, double-faced nature of this walling and the substantial upstanding building it must have belonged to.
In the Southwest extension the last remnant of the special deposit that had included the sheep skull and other items was lifted allowing us to lift and look at the saddle quern rubber stone. It is an object with a more complex history than we thought. Initially used as a top-stone to grind the grain against a saddle quern, it also shows signs of having been subsequently used as a mortar to crush substances. Finally it looks like large flakes were removed from its original grinding surface. These may have then been used as ‘Skaill knives’, a form of butchery or skinning scarping tool, or the flaking may have been intended to remove the old working surface from the rubber, a phenomenon sometimes seen in prehistoric querns and quern rubbers!
Finally, inside the broch, recording was under way as we prepare for the end of the week and closing down the site. Prior to this though we still have a few days digging work left and we’ll keep you informed of what we find!
Martin Carruthers, Site Director, The Cairns