During the day the archaeological team have skimmed the turf off the top of the burnt mound, and already discovered some fire-split stones. This at least proves that it is not a geological phenomenon, just a load of stones dumped out of the pockets of a departing ice sheet a few thousand years back. Instead it looks likely to be the debris from human activity involving fire and water, which is what we were hoping.
Some test pits have been dug, and immediately filled up with water, showing that the water table on much of the site is at floor height. Channels, dams and pumps have been mentioned. Water is, as expected, not going to be in short supply.
We have also brought in some wood and a bucket of local clay, to line a water tank for the experimental archaeology work. And the digging of the burnt mound will now begin in earnest, looking to see if there are signs of a water tank in the crotch of the crescent.
At 5pm in Lochinver Hall, Graeme Cavers, lead archaeologist, officially launched the project with a talk to a small but appreciative audience. His pictures included some intriguing drawings from burnt mound digs in Shetland and the Uists, which have uncovered really quite complex multi-celled structures. Although other digs have revealed no more than a heap of split stones, this left us excited that under the Stronechrubie mound there may be something really interesting. All power to the diggers! Let’s find out what’s in there.