Today we put two and two together and made two thousand years. It happened during a finds workshop in the village hall at Stoer, cataloguing some of the objects uncovered at Clachtoll broch over recent weeks.
One of the volunteers was recording a pottery find. It consisted of three pieces of ceramic, two of which were decorated with two grooves which lined up perfectly. They were from a curved pot, so it was hard to lie them down on the table to photograph them together without them separating. Our volunteer was being so careful with the pieces – they must not break any further! And she wanted the grooves to line up in the photograph. Sitting them on a small piece of plasticene solved the problem. The photo was taken, the number of the photo was entered in the database, along with a description of the shards, their size and a reference to a similarly decorated piece at an archaeological site in Lewis, for comparison.
It sounds humdrum, dry, not very exciting. But the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck. These two pieces of pottery fit together! Of all the bits and bobs, among all that rubble, these two little shards are part of a greater whole.
There is something marvelous about the respect being shown to these fragments of the lives of the broch people. I wonder what the person who made that pot, impressed those two grooves into the clay, would have thought of the blue-gloved care with which their work is being handled now, more than two thousand years after if was made? What about the people who used it, to store their jam in or eat their porridge from?
But the real wonder is greater that this connection the pot gives us to the broch people. The joining of those two shards of pottery symbolises the whole project – a whole is being pieced together from fragments, the past is emerging from its remnants.
The next find up consisted of two lovely pieces of bone comb (pictured above). Lo and behold, they fit together too! And suddenly standing among us was a broch person, with hair much finer than mine. Welcome to the 21st century, broch person, we are really very proud to have you here!