Following a slight hiatus (lost in the mists of time) ... one of the wonderful things about Orcadian archaeology is that so much is built in stone and you can see just how sophisticated these folks were.  Pictish structures offer a delightful case in point; here, at the foot of a curving flight of steps (OK, a short flight but none the less) leading into the ‘Pictish smithy’ lies a curb stone at the doorway, inside which our intrepid explorers, Dr Gerry McDonnell and his Viking assistant Keith (he's only a Viking some of the time, being a professional reenactor, sometimes he’s a Pict), recently uncovered one of my favourite features of these Pictish buildings − a pivot stone (for the door).

My final day on site (😢) ... But today was a good day. The rather scruffy wall I'd uncovered (just in front of Alice) turned out to have been set above a much earlier wall coinciding with the back (and potentially corbelled roofing) of a lower cell set against the wall of the chambered tomb (to the left). The two blocked approaches to this cell (and you can see how deep it is going to be by the position of the lintel  stone −  now cracked in the middle − straddling the two roof-support walls at either side) also blocked the entrance to the tomb to the left; once this blocking is removed we'll be able to see the relationship between the two structures (or at least one stage of use of the same) more clearly ... bet they do it when I'm not there ... check out the Swandro website! (I will be!)

A curb stone, and a view of the site A misty sea

Off in the early morning mist, just round the headland to the right, lies the bay of Swandro .... my Odyssey is over for this year but the battle to save the site from the currently deceptively placid sea goes on into early August. Keep updated on progress via the project web page and Dr Dockrill's eroding archaeology blog, and if you are feeling generous donations are gratefully received. See you next year!

By Jacqueline McKinley, Principal Osteoarchaeologist