Return to the Ness! Day 1
|Layers of ashy midden deposits sitting on glacial till|
|A dizzying view of excavations in Trench T|
There are two strands to my work. The first is to help resolve questions that arise during excavation related to the formation processes of these deposits and the activities they represent. The second is to examine the nature of resource use, particularly the use of fuel, through the remains that we see in middens, with comparative material from ‘primary’ ash deposits in hearths. Even in the field we can see differences in the thickness, colour and extent of different ‘ashy’ layers. What sorts of fuels are represented? Did this vary seasonally or on longer timescales? How is this linked to fire-related activities such as pottery production?
|Sampling underway in Trench T|
Interdisciplinary work is key when addressing questions like this. The team of specialists includes magnetic susceptibility, pXRF amongst others, and to understand these deposits requires integration of all these different lines of evidence. The most exciting bit will be when everyone has completed their analyses, and we get to compare all of our data! Will it tell the same story, or will there be conflicting lines of evidence? And how do the results from on-site analysis compare with what we know about the wider landscape? Pollen records from Orkney have traditionally been interpreted as showing a 'treeless' landscape by c. 5000BP, though the picture may be more complicated depending where on the islands you are looking, and newer studies show woodland may have persisted into the Bronze Age (Farrell et al. 2012)