Ken's Bamburgh Journal
Fieldwork 2006

Delicate Work
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Today Hanka and I finished our skelly, after another long day of awkward positions yesterday. At least it wasn't hot; and I could stand in the grave, carefully, albeit that wasn't a great improvement over laying alongside or part way within the cutting. Near the end of the day they brought in some planks (finally! - I suspect their newly arrived manager's suggestion to get them carried more weight than mine) so future work should be easier and faster and better.

After we completely dug around all the bones, we photographed them and plotted them on grid paper. Tomorrow we'll excavate them completely and lift them from the ground. The skull will be lifted separately within a block of soil so that it can be dealt with in a lab under better lighting and conditions, in an effort to find the miniscule earbones and any other details of possible significance.

As you can see in the photos, we have a complete skelly, even the tiny feet and hand bones. In general that's an uncommon situation, because graves can be disturbed or simply dissolve away altogether. We have exceptional preservation here for some reason, although many of the bones come apart when touched because they're soft.

This particular person (not sure whether he or she yet, opinions on the site differ) has one arm in a rather strange position: the lower section of the right arm reaches straight up to the shoulder. The arm might have been bound tightly to achieve this, or perhaps somehow it just ended up that way, but it's a topic of discussion. It may also be the case that the right hand was clutching a stone (see photo), however that stone may just be coincidentally positioned just where the hand came to rest. We should know tomorrow on that point.

Our skelly at the stage just prior to lifting

Closer view; note right arm bent back to shoulder, and possible clutched stone in right hand (just below teeth)

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