Further erosion on cliff face Sandbagging House drain in cliff face? Chapel, west end Newark Bay
October 2019 update We've made two visits to Orkney this year and are finding it a long - and carbon- heavy - drive up from the West Country; it was so much easier going straight up the A1 from Essex. Our first visit in June over the solstice was originally to celebrate 50 years since our first visit in 1969. Then the Newark Project was announced and we were able to use our visit to meet up with some of the team members in the Archaeology Department at Orkney College. At this stage it appeared that the only details of the dig they had were our “holiday snaps” which I had posted online about eight years ago and my totally unprofessional diaries! Still at the meeting we went through those photos and we realised that our memories were partial to say the least, but better than nothing. We also enjoyed an informal evening in the Deerness Community Hall with tea and biscuits and local people who remembered - or were interested in - the dig. Obviously, like us, most of these are past their three score and ten, but they seem to remember the student invasion with fondness - especially the proprietors of the Deerness Co-op - if not a certain wry amusement. Again we went through the photos to see if any memories were jogged; and that is the purpose of this whole exercise - apart from the archaeology - to collect memories and/or memorabilia from 1968-1974. The site itself has multiple layers of archaeological interest: there is the sixteenth century manor house which incorporated the early Christian chapel, with the two souterrains beneath pre-dating the burials which themselves date from about 600AD to about 1300. It is hoped that with DNA and isotopic analysis and facial reconstruction we may be moving towards a solution of the problem of the Picts. Another strand of research is on the history of the house and its owners, from the Stewart builders, to the Covingtries - Kirkwall merchants - and the Balfours. We returned home determined to find out as much as we could; and I contacted the York Alumni office to see if we could track down any of the 1968 diggers. We had already contacted the diggers we were still in touch with and Pat Brothwell, Don's first wife, and this resulted in the discovery, among some of Don's possessions found after his death, of a box containing about 400 slides, some notebooks and three small pieces of human skull. Having the time and a slide scanner I spent quite a bit of July digitising the slides, organising and indexing them, and sent them to Orkney on a DVD where the recipients were very grateful to at last see some of the official record of the dig. However, again, 1968 is poorly documented, as it seems the dig was run by Sam Berry and Don only played a secondary role. We returned to Orkney at the start of October, and for the first time since 1969, got the ferry from Aberdeen to Kirkwall - it's a lot quicker now! We've come home this way since moving to Devon, as we can get back with only one overnight stop; the Scrabster to Stromness route is still my preferred crossing - it feels like coming home as we pass Graemsay to approach Stromness. The primary purpose of this visit was to take Don's original slides and the other contents of that box and give them to the Orkney Museum in Tankerness House in Kirkwall; we also presented them with our account book containing digger names and contributions to the food kitty, and bundles of invoices from the Deerness Co-op for 1970 and 1971. I had taken my slide scanner north with me so was able to scan some more slides of the dig that had been given to the Museum. There was another brief meeting at the College where we were able to meet team members who, back in June, had been too involved with the current and busy archaeological season to attend. There was of course the obligatory visit to Newark Bay, and these are some of the photos; as usual, click on first for a slideshow.
< < < Some 16th century walling