We are working on a tiny uninhabited island connected to the southwestern corner of South Uist by a sandy spit, that has the local name of Orasay. It is the most beautiful setting for archaeology you can imagine, with lobster boats bobbing in the cove and friendly seals popping up to check out the visitors from America.
Professor Sharples took the morning to tour us around the island and show us all the many archaeological deposits that dot Orsay’s miniature landscape. There is everything from a Neolithic settlement and chambered tomb, to a Pictish Cairn, Bronze and Iron Age houses, a Viking boat burial, and possibly a Medieval burial of some social outcast denied interment in consecrated ground. All in all, this island has seen extensive occupation despite its small size.
After the tour the Lehigh students were integrated with the Cardiff students to start their first day on site. I worked with Kenyon, Sammi, and Dan to set up the total station, establish a site grid, and put in some posts that can later be used to map out excavation units.
The sun was fierce, and despite the 20 mile per hour winds off the North Atlantic, I think everyone was in short sleeves by the end of the day. The students were in a fine mood, but Niall fell ill, and I developed a mild caffeine-withdrawal headache. All in all, however, it was a very exciting first day and we should soon be able to share some additional insights into what we are finding.
While we were working we were serenaded by a chorus of unfamiliar bird calls.
We also received an unexpected visit from a curious seal. He is now a regular who turns up each morning to check on our progress!