A team from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute arrived back in Rousay today to resume excavation at the Skaill farmstead and begin work at the Wirk. Here, Dan Lee updates us on the first day’s progress.
Wirk wall lines and early post-medieval occupation
It has been a good first day at Skaill and The Wirk in Rousay – despite the rain.
Today was the first time any of the team had been to site since the 2019 season, two years ago. It’s great to be back!
At Skaill we opened up Trench Nineteen, next to the surviving 19th century domestic range, to continue working on the earlier phases of the post-medieval farmstead. We hope to lift some of the stone floors and recover dating evidence, and figure out some of the different phases of walling. We re-opened Trench Twenty-Two and Test Pit Five to explore some promising middens.
At the Wirk, we de-turfed both our new small evaluation trenches, which target walls east of the tower within a trench opened by the historian and antiquarian J. Storer Clouston in the 1920s.
It has been almost 100 years since these early excavations and it’s great to have the opportunity to explore this intriguing site to verify his early descriptions and try and find datable material (funded by Castle Studies Trust).
It’s Orkney, so of course there are substantial walls just below the turf in both trenches – right where the geophysics indicated they would be. Watch this space!