Dig 2021: #12 Steps cleared

31 July 2021
View of Hoy

Our view of Hoy from The Hall of Clestrain. Just a little clearer, but it soon fogged in again.

North Steps

Here we have cleared the North steps down to The Hall. These were covered in around 1952/3 when the pig sties were installed in the ground floor. Piggies do not like going up and down steps, so this is why they were filled in. They are very beautiful and we now know they were built around 1850 when the drains were constructed. So, John Rae will have not seen them.

Looking down into the cleaned drain, you can see the beautifully made sandstone gutter which the great drain was built over. The slab next to it would have been wide enough to make a narrow pathway all round the Hall. I am sure that John Rae will have seen and used this,

Clay in moat

This shows the cut through a clay layer in the ‘Moat.’ This clay seemed quite puddled and had what looks like boot prints in it, which I mentioned yesterday.

west Pavilion wall

Here on the left is the trench by the West Pavilion. We are trying to see how deep the walls go here, but we have not got to the bottom of it yet. The threshold you see probably is not original as the wall goes well below it’s level.

Pavilion Corner

Here is the quoined corner. It goes down even further, indicating that the pavilion was certainly a couple of feet higher than assumed. Information such as this, will really help with the planning of our Centre, honouring John Rae.

The half slab we took up inside the pavilion shows a distinct deposit of peat ash and scorched peat. This does seem to have a lot of manure mixed within it. The layer seems quite thick, so this is further food for thought.

Do remember that we have our open days, Sunday 1st August and the 2nd August from 10.00 until 4.30. It should prove to be a very interesting couple of days.

I wish to thank Paul Johnson for directing the excavations and giving expert training sessions: Sue Dyke for excellent digging, drawing and company: Duncan McNeish for all his hard work and drawing sections and plans: Gail Drinkall for curating the finds: Keith and Lesley Ramsay, who have recently moved to Orkney for their stalwart work digging and planning the pavilion trench.

Thanks to Casey Construction for fixing our drains at the drop of a hat and Jean Craigie for her constant interest.

With all good wishes



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