Swandro season ends: back to the day job

The dig season at the Knowe of Swandro in Rousay is now over, and Caz has now returned from her six week stint of commuting to Rousay to play in the mud and is back into touring mode to give Dave a bit of a rest. Actually it wasn't really playing in the mud since we've had a really hot and dry summer so it was more a question of the heat, the dust, the flies - particularly the kleggs (horseflies) which were biting something chronic at the start of the dig. Swandro is a very hard site to dig, since it need to be covered over completely at the end of the season using huge quantities of stone to protect it as much as possible from the winter storms, and this all has to be removed at the start:

Clearing the Pictish smithy

Work this year concentrated on finishing off the Pictish smithy including taking XRF samples and lifting the anvils before investigating the lower levels:

Sampling and recording the Pictish smithy at Swandro
Sampling and recording the Pictish smithy

There's a good little youtube clip of Dr Gerry McDonnell explaining his most recent ideas on the smithy that's worth a watch. This was before we lifted the anvil stone from the smithy and cleaned it up to be drawn, then discovered that it sill has the Pictish smith's hand and knee prints on it:

Pictish anvil at Swandro

Elsewhere on site, we opened up a new area above the chambered tomb and found a lot of Iron age buildings getting in the way - typical! Of course we do want to excavate the tomb at Swandro as soon as possible before it's destroyed by coastal erosion, but we do have to properly excavate all the Iron Age buildings too. It's a lot of hard work to go from this:

Opening up a new area over the chambered tomb at Swandro
Opening up a new area over the chambered tomb at Swandro

to this:

Six weeks flew by all too quickly, especially as the last week was spent filling in the site again to protect it over the winter. The big fundraising push is now on to raise the money to pay for the 2019 Swandro dig. The chambered tomb will be destroyed all too quickly without excavation. We know that the lower wall faces of the chambered tomb were destroyed over the course of the last winter, so the lower concentric tomb walls in this composite photo (the light brown bits) below the 2018 excavation area (shaded light grey) are no longer there:

Composite of the chambered tomb at Swandro