The excavation of the ‘guard’ cell to the left of the entrance, between the broch walls, continues to produce really interesting finds, particularly coming out from the sieving of the gloopy material in the floor of the chamber. Under where the almost complete skeleton of a sheep was found was some slimy deposits – possibly from the sheep, or perhaps some of the whale or seal blubber that must have been needed for all those lamps that were found last year.
Even more exciting was some sheep’s wool – so we know it was the colour of a Soay sheep (i.e dark brown). It is amazing to find it so well preserved. Close by was a whetting stone, so we have the sheep, its fleece and the stone for sharpening the shearing blade!
The find that has caused the most ‘ooh’s and ‘ah’s so far, however, is a tiny, fragile, two-ply piece of twine (pictured above). Was this tethering the sheep to the timber post found close by? Surely not. It’s so delicate you can imagine it being used for a piece of jewelry. It is really remarkable to find something like this so well preserved after more than 2000 years.
Outside the doorway of the broch there are interesting structures being revealed – a substantial building or chamber leaning up against the seaward wall with a corbelled roof. It will be fascinating to find out whether this is contemporary with the broch (and if so, early on, or in one of its later modifications) or a later addition. Perhaps after the main tower collapsed some parts of the building continued to be occupied. As always, the more we discover, the more questions there are to answer!