Wrapping up on the final day of digging
Today was the last full day of excavation before the work of cleaning and packing the site away begins.
This is my first excavation and the two weeks have gone past so quickly. We had to make sure everything we had begun had been finished off properly – including the relevant paperwork – and it was sad to think that there would be no more digging!
The morning began, for most of us, with weeding the surface of the structures and the trench edges in preparation for drone photography. This is not just a cosmetic exercise as the resolution of these photographs is so high that weeds can obscure useful details.
That over, the final excavation work began.
In the broch itself, Martin cleared out the amazing “well”, with the assistance of Katie and Minna. It had been pumped out yesterday and the cleaning will mean that the toolmarks from its construction can be recorded.
Remaining in the broch, Amanda and Siobhan were working on the large hearth in the South-east Room. They were excavating the halo of rake-out deposit, the objective being to determine the extent of this very large hearth.
Dr Scott Timpany, associate professor at the UHI Archaeology Institute, spent the afternoon on the site – along with Sara, Sara-Jane, and Liz – working with Rick to take Kubiena samples from the broch’s East Room for pollen analysis. This form of sample takes blocks of deposit/soil in tin boxes to ensure that the sample is undisturbed.
At the broch entrance, in Structure T, Anna worked on removing the remaining loose midden deposit in preparation for covering up the site. Holly focused on recording and planning the area – which has changed considerably since the beginning of the excavation and produced amazing finds.
I was one of a group of UHI Archaeology Institute students, including Michele, Annie and Dan, who were working in the Structure E area. Our work had revealed three separate contexts, which were recorded and sketched today.
Bulk samples were also taken from each context. Michele was the only one of us with significant field experience and it was good to have her there.
Volunteers Clara and Zoe, along with Katie from the UHI, continued working on a narrow section on the east side of Structure E, which has gradually resolved itself into a wall. This aids the ongoing interpretation of this section of the broch exterior.
Perhaps because the weather improved in the afternoon, we saw a huge number of visitors today – almost like a second open day – with key staff willingly devoting a lot of time to giving tours. This level of interest gives the site a positive atmosphere and a sense of public support and engagement.
Also visiting today was Professor Colin Richards, of the UHI Archaeology Institute, and Cardiff University’s Professor Niall Sharples – an internationally known specialist on the North Atlantic Iron Age.
The UHI Archaeology Institute’s Dr James Moore also paid a visit but claimed it was just because he was on holiday and apart from catching up with people, he had no particular reason to be there! We, however, certainly have good reasons to be here…
MLitt (Archaeological Studies) student