Aidan’s Blog- 21st July


Well, the boot is defiantly no more. Since I was last pressed ganged into web-logging we have not only failed to recover my footwear but also lost Sally from our dig team as she departed for normality, or as close as you get to it in York.  However we have gained small children and extra members of staff.  The small children attacked Rhys during the lunch break today, instantly proving their worth. We have also gained a foreign masters student. However, although tall, blonde and pretty, Rose was not Norwegian or Swedish as previously advertised but is in fact from Seattle, State of Washington, America-land. She is doing a masters in Celtic Studies and was roped into this in the most bizarre and horrible way; she volunteered. Today was her first day of archaeology ever. We all got up bright and early before 8am. We were then informed the boat would be delayed until 10am and we could have slept in late.   However we had better than average meteorological conditions; miserable and not so much overcast as hung-over with clouds in the morning fading to the precipitation in the French onion soup of the afternoon with the croutons of rain and weird grated cheese of sardonic technical failures.

First the EDM control point we were setting up on sank. Then the tripod sank and then fell over. Then it sank and fell over and slipped.  Having got the EDM set up without it actually having spontaneously combusted in a sad and Pythonesque manner, it refused to cooperate when switched on and took until lunch to decide to work properly. So we had lunch in the last few moments before the rain started its relentless yet doomed attempt to retake the land by parradrop. Well fed…well, fed… we began the task of surveying the old gig-house.  The gigs would have been used to reach ships quickly to offer piloting services around the hazardous waters of the western coast of Brittan for a fee and competition between the islands for this cash lead to the tradition of gig racing that still endures and lives deep in the Scillonian memory.  The recent death of a gig rower has overshadowed the islands terribly of late and the legend of Samson always ends with the sad tale of the womenfolk of the island being evicted on humanitarian grounds when the men died in a gig accident and they were left unable to fend for themselves. However of the gig shed little remains archaeologically save two rows of stones parallel to the sea, some visible on the surface where the flanks of rock jut out like broken teeth, others lying hidden below the surface.

The gig shed

So we set up and began surveying. It was a long distance survey and so required the walkie-talkies to communicate and without these devices, both of which I had carefully charged the night before, we would be utterly up the via cloacae without a paddle.

Ten minutes in, my walkie-talkie died.

So the day ended thus; as the day’s last half dragged on like the 4th circle of hell or Enya’s last album, I would sight down the EDM lens to spot the staff and take a reading. As per normal I would record the results when the laser was done firing. Then I would, rather than say “ok, next point please” into the radio, run up the hill to a spot where I was more visible, jump up and down flailing my arms about like a passing lunatic stuck on an electric fence, and run back down to stare down the lens and see Helen staring back sisterly with binoculars, small children pointing and laughing in between squinting into their binoculars, Rhys yelling at Rose to move, Matt directing Rose where to move too and Rose soldiering on with the EDM staff at the arse end of the worlds least efficient communication system since Mad King Ludwig the Third of Bavaria said “I have seen the future! Forget those old fashioned pigeons, I have two words for you; carrier limpets!” 

And as I saw this, with her looking so forlorn in the stealth rain (light, but of a species that sneaks up on you, making you damp from precipitation and sticky from perspiration at the same time), a question came to me;

Why did she get such a better first day in archaeology than everybody else?



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