Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more


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Beginning at the south extension the team excavating the area of the ditch fill continues to expose animal bone and pottery fragments with Gary uncovering a large fragment of salmon coloured pottery.


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To the north of the ditch area Sam has been excavating and has now revealed the clearly defined arc of a wall in structure J along with a cache of animal bone. The maze of wall features is relatively complex and sorting rubble from wall has been quite a challenge. Dagmar, Hannah, Ruby, and Marianne, are working to expose walls at the north side of the trenches. Lindsay and Charlie are drawing back layer to determine if walls continue from trench M into trench Q and distinct structures are now coming into view including the large Structure O just outside the Broch entrance where Henrik has been working.

Inside the Broch the deliberate work of sampling the grids laid out on the floors is being carried out by Conal, Caitlin, Ross, and Hamish with samples collected for both chemical and environmental analysis.

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The floor area Ross has been working on is particularly rich in contrast, promising some valuable data. The complexity of the hearth area in the NW quadrant is being carefully recorded by Therese. Between the hearth and the pit, I had the pleasure of finding a beautiful piece of blue-green, potentially Roman, glass. This glass was discovered in the same layer as the glass bead found by Therese last week. We will carry on with the broch and the work of teasing out the soil floors in the building.

It is after all one of the main elements of the site and certainly one of the important contributions that we hope that the project can make; helping us to understand the complex, changing use and lives of brochs. We hope to be able to reach some of the earlier floors within the building.

The hearth in the western area of the broch looks likely to be a lengthy series of hearths, one laid out on top of another!

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This will provide a great sequence of radiocarbon dates and a strong sense of the longevity of certain feature areas, like this, within the broch. Of course there is still some of the anaerobic deposit to come out of this space and there could be other remarkably preserved objects to come! I spent a little time in the well chamber today and I could certainly detect at least one more quite large wooden piece to come. Work in the Southern extension will now concentrate on the deposits in the ditch fills, with just a little work to define village building Structure J.

The ditch fills, I feel, still have a few surprises to yield. After all our sneak preview of this feature last year produced 4 bronze objects, lots of pottery and animal bones. Beyond the finds themselves the merit of this ditch exploration is to give a sense of the longer history of the site as the ditch is likely to be filled with deposits from across the phases of the site.

We have the grandly imposing Structure O just outside the broch entrance and running northwards from this another wall related to Structure K or Q! Meanwhile the artefacts turning up across the site have been stunning from glass bead to whalebone chopping bock and bronze ring to antler mount.


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  • Obviously, in the last few days, in particular, the site has produced items which are just astonishing! The existence of the wooden bowl is just well-nigh miraculous. Its hard to convey how unusual and rare this sort of preservation is in a Scottish context and particularly away from a crannog, or wetland site, such as the wonderful on-going excavations at Black Loch of Myrton in Dumfries and Galloway.

    Indeed, it seems to have been a weird time in Scottish Iron Age studies recently with sites yielding up this kind of normally exceptionally rare preservation!

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    Today as we took stock of that particularly dramatic situation, there was minimal work in the well structure itself, however, we did inspect the deposit at the base of the well again and I can reveal that a third substantial wooden object is present. It appears, at this stage, to be another peg-like piece and possibly driven into the deposit like the previous one, but it appears to be larger and firmer than the first. There is also evidence of other organics including what looks like twisted plant fibres here and there, which may be a simple grass or heather weave, possiby the remains of a net, a mat or a bag!

    I look forward to sharing the news from Week 3 with you…. Bronze ring from Area Q-M A second antler mount — a knife handle from cleaning Trench area Q I look forward to sharing the news from Week 3 with you over the next few days. Hi folks, Martin here yet again. What I have to share with you, however, is anything but boring! This subterranean structure is reached by a set of steep stone steps that curve down, slightly spiralling in a counter-clockwise direction. Today that promise has come true! Within the partially rock-cut chamber, underneath the very fine upper grey silt deposit we uncovered a darker deposit, still very wet, but with a more compact consistency, and, I have to say, a quite a distinctive smell!

    This morning we got the first hint of organic preservation from this dark deposit in the form of what appeared to be grass fibres, some of which even appeared as if they might be woven! There were also pieces of tree bark present. This was sufficiently stunning, and we were just contemplating the significance of this over morning tea break, but this was nothing to the shock of what emerged after the break.

    Unbelievably, it was a wooden bowl…. I was astonished to see this very dark, very smooth object begin to appear more clearly as a vessel. The bowl is in several large chunks, but all in the correct relationship to each other showing that the vessel was complete, and it was clearly lying upright with the rim upwards. In form, the thing has a lovely out-swinging or everted rim just like a contemporary Iron Age pot. The bowl is round-bottomed like some Middle Iron Age ceramic vessels too. Within the curve of the rim I could see that there was further organic preservation — a mass of plant material.

    Startlingly, a second wooden object became apparent lying near to the wooden bowl, but closer to the bottom step of the staircase leading into the chamber. The object very closely resembles a modern wooden tent peg! Before the end of the day we were able to lift the peg and the wooden vessel and safely pack it all up in protective layers and significant amounts of its own silty matrix within a plastic crate. The whole thing will have to be sent off to conservators to stabilise the object and prevent any deterioration of the precious wooden object.

    In the meantime we have not yet reached the bottom of the chamber. It was quite clear that in lifting the wooden bowl there was more organic material beneath, what seemed like a thick mass of plant fibres, perhaps the bowl was resting on a mat of some sort! Only a little time will tell as we continue to excavate this important feature! Why sell a bill of goods about closure? That they perform, by and large, functions of service to the elite life Mendelssohn enjoys — the West Indian nurse, the Puerto Rican doorman, the Zimbabwean waitress, the Latino busboy and dishwasher — does not mitigate this impression.

    McCann tries his best here to allow his creative imagination to do the work of forgiveness, of impartiality, to imagine himself — as a good fiction writer must do — not just as one perspective on the drama but as all of them. Log In. Random House. A version of this article appears in print on , Page 13 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Inescapable Rhythms. Anna claims issues that she once spent a disproportionate amount of time worrying about in London seem less important at 1, ft above sea level file image.

    It is a world of extremes. The mountains, for example, are so big that they have their own weather systems and will happily throw snow at you in June. Standing on top of these craggy giants, you are overcome with the feeling of being part of something much, much bigger than yourself. Should I be working less and helping the children with their homework? Should I be working more and employing a tutor to help them? Life, you feel, will take its course whether you fret about it or not. So may as well not. Then there are the lochs. Loch Ness holds more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.

    Anna revealed she often stops her car just to take time to look at the vast skies file image. Being the kind of person who used to perch on top of radiators in order to extract every last degree of warmth, I never thought I would go wild swimming in Scotland. But within weeks of arriving, I was swimming in the Moray Firth — without a wetsuit. For the next ten you feel absolutely invincible and the after-glow is quite extraordinary. A powerful serotonin hit like no other. Recent studies have linked cold water swimming with both improved mental health and boosted immunity.

    Everyone up here is at it. The vast skies take my breath away — every day. I regularly stop my car and just take a minute to look.

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    We have Northern Lights in winter and sunsets are still going on at midnight in summer. Neither is coorie necessarily about being outside. Rolled up in the concept are Scottish traditions and ways of life. Anna says drying your feet in front of a bothy fire after coming off the high moor is about as coorie as it gets file image.

    In fact, to me at any rate, the people here seem particularly friendly and relaxed — the Spanish of Northern Europe.

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    It means aimlessly chit-chatting, about whatever, just chewing the cud for the pleasure of it. Even the architecture is well- intentioned. Hike up into the mountains and you are likely to come across a Scottish bothy. This is essentially a tiny stone cottage, left permanently unlocked so that anybody can use it as shelter if they need to. Coming in off the high moor, peeling off your hiking socks and drying your feet in front of a bothy fire is probably about as coorie as it gets.

    Mention should also be made of the brilliant comfort food here. Cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert made from oats, cream, whisky and raspberries is also a must.

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    The idea of having what you want, exactly when you want it, is alien. Anna pictured has begun growing her own vegetables and has performed with a Gaelic choir since moving to Scotland. I have performed with a Gaelic choir, learned to crochet very coorie! A year after moving here, we often stop during an evening stroll with our collie Stanley.

    How to give your life a McMakeover without upping sticks to Scotland. Wool and knitted clothes are synonymous with Scotland, for practical reasons as much as anything else. But while you could hunker down in a shop-bought woollie, what about a bit of DIY?

    Knitting is a craft deeply embedded in Scots culture, one that requires patience and commitment. Take your time and the coorie yield awaits.

    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more
    Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands...and more

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