At the end of the first week of the 2021 season, here is today’s excavation update from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute’s Dan Lee.
We’ve made great progress at Skaill and the Wirk after the first week.
It’s been all midden at Skaill, with pottery, animal bone and shell from all three trenches. Excavation of the Norse midden in Trench Twenty-Two has reached an earlier horizon with burnt material. The midden in Trench Five, however, contains lots of shell.
The surprise from Trench 19 today was the discovery of early post-medieval deposits just below some paving sealing the passage between the earlier ranges.
The passage appears to have been blocked early on by a wall and the space behind filled with finds rich material. This contains diagnostic unglazed pottery and will help date the early phases of the farmstead.
Over at the Wirk, excavation continues down the side of the walls. The eastern end wall in Trench One was levelled with stone and rubble below the lowest course to counter the slope. The trench has been planned and recording has started.
Yet another very finely moulded red sandstone fillet fragment was found above the wall in Trench Two. Compact stony clay, which appears to be in situ and not excavated by Storer Clouston, abuts the inner wall face. We’ll keep digging down there next week.
Reviewing the comparative levels of the lower stone sill and other features at the Wirk, and a very thick wall which runs under the tower, there appears to have been several construction phases.