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Yesterday was the first Open Day on the Ness of Brodgar site. We had over 200 visitors in the Art Hut, which meant going out to draw in the trenches was difficult. So I began a repeat of my ‘play’ with rocks that make marks – but even then I only managed two samples.

Today, by contrast, we only had 6 visitors in the Art Hut.

On site two groups of archaeology students arrived to take part in the dig and began work in areas where there is lots to clear, like Trench T.

Meanwhile in Trench Y, they are continuing to search for the edge of the wall that surrounded the whole site.

In the afternoon, the clouds were particularly attractive. The sky in Orkney is very big and I could happily spend time every day painting it in watercolour. Here are two versions of the same view, from the steps of the Art Hut – one on white watercolour paper and the other on Turner’s ‘blue’ paper, with the addition of white body paint.

I’m not sure which I prefer. Best to wait a few days to see them clearly…


A first oil painting on site. One of the benefits of spending a whole afternoon on one piece of work is listening to, and learning about, the ongoing the progress of the excavation – interspersed of course with discussions on music and politics.

Previously in the morning, I visited Trench T

And caught the site dog in a rare moment of stillness

Tomorrow we have the day off, because we will be on site on Sunday for the first Open Day.


Lunchtime on the grass.  This week there are a lot more people working on site, with another group coming next week.

Down by the waterside, Trench Y continues to prove interesting. A change in the earth colour and texture suggests they may have found the edge of the wall. It is amazing how this team have achieved so much in just one week.

Am I having a conversation with the past – or with the archaeologists in the present – or with viewers of the future? This requires more thought…



After days of sunshine last week, the weather has become more typical of the Orkney I know. It may be cold and grey but the colours and the clouds sitting on top of the hills are a gift to paint and draw.

There were clouds both above and below the hills of Hoy

Meanwhile, work continues in Trench Y, where the wall they are uncovering is proving most interesting. Read all about it in the Dig Diary for today at www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk



There is progress in Trench Y, down by the water’s edge, where they are looking for the outer wall of the settlement. A test pit revealed what they were hoping for so this has been enlarged. 

Obviously it’s early days but they are optimistic that it’s the corner of the wall.

Meanwhile further digging is going deeper towards the water, to see what happens outside the wall. Compared to other trenches, there is a lot of top soil much softer and easier to dig.  But it is still back breaking work.  They work hard and energetically, which means my drawings are even more sketchy.

I’m learning to let a couple of lines speak, and not try to make something more finished – hoping it will work well when it is integrated into the film.