Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Holes and More Holes

I am taking part in a great archaeological project up here. (see their web site: www.aocarchaeology.com, the Viking and Norse project in Caithness.) As so often happens, the glamorous part will come after slogging through a lot of holes. In this case, they have 1500 places already where they want to dig cores. In each of those spots, they'll take several cores. How many is several? Well, it varies, but the first hole had had nine cores removed (about 20 cm each) by the time I left for lunch yesterday.

Today when my husband stopped by, they were in a nearby field and the hole in question was down to about 9 meters depth. Each core has to be described. If the second or third or so on is not different in colour or texture or inclusions, then you do not need to describe it, but with half a dozen newly trained people hovered around a clump of dirt, you'd be surprised how many different ideas you get on what the colour is and whether it is the same or different as the previous one, let alone texture.

The process of using GPS to find each of these 1500 locations, make a hole, collect cores, and note down the descriptions on a paper form as well as on a handheld computer device is what this first phase of the project is all about in a nutshell. Lots of holes in which we may or may not find anything interesting. The aocarchaeology web site for more information about the project and other aspects of the River of Stone project. I'll post photos and updates here, too, from time to time.

As if that weren't enough excitement. I came home to discover a great hole where the laundry room floor had been. Although it may not sound like it, that is great progress. I was even happier to see that hole than the first of the 1500.

Making a hole where the laundry room floor used to be is progress because the floor boards were rotting. Considerable moisture, since the house is within walking distance of the ocean, this is Scotland, and the house is more than 200 years old, has been swirling around the laundry room not only rotting floorboards but also freezing my poor feet all the way to my knee caps if I stood there for more than 2 minutes.

In defense of those poor floorboards: they did a yeoman's job with no help from any moisture barrier or damp course. Now that we have a hole --and a heap of rubbish--we can amend all that. On the way to the concrete and the damp course and the insulation and new floor boards, there is just the little matter of yanking out a wall.

Tomorrow I will be able to come home and find a hole where a wall used to be. As quirky as that sounds, that hole, also, will make very happy. The wall that is soon to be an ex wall divides the boiler and the airing cupboard from the laundry room for no apparent reason. The boiler room is warm; the laundry room is desperately cold. If the wall comes down, then just maybe some of that warmth will wend its way into the laundry room, and, with the floor all nicely insulated, may even linger there a while. That is my fondest hope.

OK. "Airing cupboard?" I can hear some of you--probably American readers-- saying to yourselves. An airing cupboard is a place around the boiler where you can put linens and towels so they get dry and sometimes can even come out with a lovely warmth to them. In case you have wondered, the stereotype about cold and damp in old Scottish houses is, sad to say, well earned. An airing cupboard is one of those lovely low tech ways of using so-called waste heat. Personally, I never waste any heat that I manage to find anywhere in the house.

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6 Comments:

At 1:56 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Unspeakably cool! that is, the AOC Arch. Society (not the laundry room). Also I loved hearing your unique voice in the descriptions of finding holes and being glad.

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Well, Ms. Piggy if you come next summer, you, too, will be able to take part. It made me laughto think that not everyone would be excited about holes.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Reading the web diary, it doesn't seem as though the archaeologists have found what they were looking for at this point. Hopefully, this will change.

I'd be very interested to learn if anyone is looking at the soil samples in terms of what it may reveal of climate at the time.

The return on effort for your digging at home sounds far more immediate.

 
At 6:20 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, yes, Cur, it is early days yet with the project. I don't think we'll be looking at climate change with these soil samples. We know that there have been some considerable variations up here over time--a mini ice age and also balmier times. I don't know the chronology or overall trend.

 
At 2:55 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

ooooh, an airing cupboard! I will keep that in mind, another great low tech idea! That's right up there with root cellars!

Wonderful news about the remodel - I just LOVE coming home to a hole where a wall used to be, LOL! It fills me with energy and hope!

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, Hayden, I was thinking of you as I blogged about holes in walls and such. I knew it would be right up your street!

I love reading about your house project. I am happy to think I was able to contribute any ideas to it.

 

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