The end of our second week finished with a glorious day of sunshine and the site open day on Saturday, enjoyed by over 60 visitors from Rousay, Orkney and beyond.
We were joined by Keith and Alan for some living history, playing the part of early 18th century bounty hunters in search of Pirate Gow, running with our theme of trading networks and seafaring.
Site co-director Dan Lee reports on progress…
We had a machine on site on Monday morning to help move some spoil and stone piles to make more space for extending the trench to the south and find the southern end wall to our building range.
The wall was (of course) just outside the trench edge last year. The range now totals 16 metres in length with two main rooms. The southern most certainly a domestic house in its later phases of use.
Indications last season that the northern room in Trench Nineteen – later modified into a corn-drying kiln – was the earliest phase in the trench were correct. Amalgamation with nearby Trench Twenty-Two has demonstrated that the early deposits, with late Norse dates, abutt the base of the wall outside, indicating that it could be as early as the 13th or 14th century.
This large nearly square building is 4.1m by 4.6m wide inside with 1m wide walls on two sides and a single entrance to the south.
Its original function is unclear. The floors of the later kiln built into the top were removed and the internal stone fill is being excavated, hopefully to expose the original floors.
Excavations in a section down the northern side of the square building have found a curvilinear wall, possibly an early kiln, and a large culvert, built into the end of an early wall, which appears to be the end of the range below the surviving 19th century house.
Excavations inside one of the rooms exposed the flag floor, which covered the early culvert and medieval-looking deposits below.
To the south, the square building has been extended twice, eventually forming a long house with a central hearth, largely exposed last season. The southern end wall and upper internal flag flooring was exposed in the new extension following the removal of the spoil heap by the machine.
It’s great to finally have the full extent of the building in the trench!
A small section excavated outside to the south has exposed a flag path and yet more walls heading off.
Finds include several bone combs from various contexts, courseware pottery, green glazed medieval pottery, iron metalwork, a whetstone, copper alloy, worked red sandstone, 18th / 19th century pottery and lots of animal bone.
The main story this week is that the buildings in Trench Nineteen are pushing back earlier in date the more we dig! Perhaps even into the late Norse period.
Watch this space as we excavate down inside the early square building this week.