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Today was Open Day on the Ness of Brodgar Dig.  Despite bad weather crowds of people came to see how the excavations are progressing.  The rain limited my drawing time but I managed two drawings during the (almost) dry spells.

Tours of the site continued all day and there was Neolithic beef stew with barley in pots on a peat fire, and Beremeal flat breads cooked on a hot stone. Unfortunately, due to health and safety, the public were not allowed to taste the results.

Meanwhile, I made some studies of the sky from the shelter of my car boot.

My plan is to make some layered images of drawings with watercolour, which could become part of a film combined with my sound recordings.  I’ve also been collecting clips of video that could be used in the background. There is much experimentation to do.


Today, the dig had a day off, because everyone will be working on Sunday for the Open Day. So I spent the day visiting old haunts and thinking about the project. The residency is half way through and I have begun to make lists:  things I need to find out, people to draw and listen to, and stuff to collect to take home.  But there are also questions I have to keep asking myself. What am I finding – what are the results of my archaeology?  How will the material collected convey what I have to say?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Orkney

There are still wrecks sunk in WW2 beside the Churchill Barriers.

I picked a stem of pretty Cotton Grass, and saw an Oyster Catcher catching oysters. Note: it is difficult to draw using binoculars.


Rain stopped all action for the morning so I spent a few hours considering work to date and how it might be best to proceed. There is too much going on in my head to write about it here but I can say that time for reflection is invaluable and perhaps I need to factor that in alongside the practical side of collecting and collating material.

We returned to the site after lunch but as the bad weather continued I went indoors to draw some of the other archaeological activities.

The Lab where archaeology gets technological and sorting the huge number of finds that have to be catalogued and analysed.

Finally the weather cleared enough to draw in the trenches and the sun even came out to cast shadows of the buckets on the grass. I am also enjoying documenting the documentary maker…




A wet and windy day meant intermittent drawing, mainly in the shelter of the trenches.  It was good to get in close to the action and see real traces of Neolithic human activity.

A heap of burnt material piled up against a wall about 5,000 years ago, and iron deposits, which I could use to make pigments from a decaying stone.

A pit has been revealed with a bit of bone in it. Careful preparations for excavating further.

A sagging floor, where one building was built on top of another one.

The beginning and the end of the day. Keeping up with paper work records before continuing to excavate, and stacked buckets and wheelbarrows put away in the barn.


High winds this morning made taking the tarpaulins off a bit of a challenge.

The other side of archaeology – paperwork and endless measuring

Excitements of the day – 1
Getting into a trench and painting a row of little red flags

Excitements of the day – 2
Watching a children’s workshop on Neolithic wall painting

and getting my hands dirty.  I can see the potential for future work using Neolithic pigments…