Excavation Iron Age The Cairns

The Cairns dig diary – day nineteen

Work under way to re-cover the archaeology
The broch 'well' set up with the little black and white reflector targets for today's photogrammetric modelling. (ORCA)
The broch ‘well’ set up with the little black and white reflector targets for today’s photogrammetric modelling. (ORCA)

Work under way to re-cover the archaeology

Today is our second last day of the project season, and we began the arduous, but necessary, process of protecting the site over the period outwith excavation.

Vast quantities of new plastic sheeting, and the mustering hundreds of old tyres to weigh down the covers, was the order of the day, so I thought I’d add just a short diary note today (in advance of a fuller round-up for the final day diary) to describe a few things that we did do today of an archaeological nature.

Several of the fieldschool students and volunteers helped me with the process of carrying out a photogrammetric survey of the underground “well” structure.

This involves placing little reflective panels on the walls and “smothering” the structure in lots of photos (120 to be precise).

We’ll be able to turn these images into a rectified 3d model of the well (so, look out for that to come down the line..) and the model will be at such a fine level of detail that we will produce full plans, elevations and section drawings of all the complex architecture of the subterranean structure.

Ashy midden deposits above the shell midden in the broch frontage. (ORCA)
Ashy midden deposits above the shell midden in the broch frontage. (ORCA)

Meanwhile, area supervisor Rick was busy “zapping-in” the 3d locations of all the finds across the site, and gridding-up the North Room of the broch again, after the recent photographs and plan that was made here, which involved removing the grid. This grid will re-emerge for full excavation next year.

Meanwhile, over at the Structure E cellular features, Ole, Michele and team were completing their final recording work of these fascinating well-preserved Late Iron Age features.

These have been really interesting to see progress this season. While they appear to be part of a coherent system of interconnected cells, they exhibit incongruities that make them more complex but then, for The Cairns, plus ca change!

Holly's elevation drawing of the 'niche wall' at the broch frontage. (ORCA)
Holly’s elevation drawing of the ‘niche wall’ at the broch frontage. (ORCA)

In the broch frontage area, where Holly, Anna and Chloe were excavating all these weeks, they have been pulling back the archaeological section through the midden to recover more shells and animal bone. Holly produced an elevation drawing of the special “niche-wall” set against the broch wall.

Well, tomorrow is our last day, and so we’ll be very busy, indeed, getting the covers on the site, but I’ll report in on a little round up of our findings for the year (but at the weekend).

Martin Carruthers
Site Director