Picking apart the Picts

Another wet and windy day on site but we still had a core group of around ten volunteers. Visitor numbers were also very high with a good number coming down to site after visiting the Caithness Broch Centre.

Colin continued looking for the back of the ditch outside the rampart. In true Colin fashion he somehow managed to remove tons of soil and rock in a few hours. Our hope of finding the back of the ditch in this trench however seem to be dashed. If true this means that the ditch was more than 6 metres wide and at least 4 metres deep. Truly monumental. Just like the gentle giant who is excavating the feature.

The rest of the team continued excavating inside the cellular buildings. Anne did a great job picking apart the complexity and phasing of truncated floor layers and hearths and a coherent picture is now emerging. In the middle of the trench the hearth seems to have been re-used; we have secure samples so hopefully dates will be forthcoming. We ended the day puzzling over some slabs in the interior which we will lift tomorrow. Who knows what lurks beneath.

In the two cells of the Jelly Baby building, Gordon and Eric lifted the paving and found sealed deposits from which, again, we are hopeful we can get dateable material. Tomorrow we will continue to pick apart the building.

Paving in the cell at the southern end of Jelly Baby house

We also continued excavating the other building to the west. Rhona, Charlotte and Meg continued excavating the hearth / midden deposit. This sat on an area of burnt and heat-affected stones. Finds continued to emerge from this burnt deposit including a small metal ring, possibly of copper. Now we are finally down to structure we will finally lift the slabs tomorrow. Rhona will, therefore, have another sleepless night wondering what lies below. I shouldn’t joke: last time Rhona lifted some slabs on an archaeological site she found a rare Iron Age stepped well….fingers crossed!

Jack was in Castletown with Paul and Muriel wet sieving. They entertained four volunteers who were shown around the labs. Varied discussions were interrupted by the recovery of decorated pottery.

A final note to the guys who were with us last week. Thanks a lot to everyone who has kept in touch via email and text with their best wishes and thoughts on the site. Keep in touch. More tomorrow…

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