Q&A with site supervisor Mick Miles

(Green, Isle of Eday, Orkney)

What qualities do you look for in a digger?

Enthusiasm, willingness to muck in with all activities and a good team player. A passion for archaeology & an interest either in the site itself or the period. As we all live and work together 24/7 it is important to be able to get on with others and not get upset by their foibles. A good sense of humour is a desirable  asset.

What items of equipment would you say are essential for a novice to bring along themselves?

Apart from a good (WHS is recommended) trowel & work gloves, we provide most things, however a mug, a bowl & a spoon is needed for breaks/lunch.

At our dig on Eday shopping is limited, so bring any luxuries you can’t live without, and a mobile phone if you wish to maintain  contact with  the outside world. Equipment-wise we strongly recommend the use of high factor sun block, and for those rare days when the wind doesn’t blow, midge repellent!

What things should a novice digger say to the site supervisor when first arriving at the dig?

“How are things going, what have you done so far?” and “What’s the plan of action and what can I expect to be doing?” are good starters.

“OOH! This looks really interesting” or “what a nice looking site/trench!” or any other flattery about the site is good for racking up brownie points, as is “what time do we start?”.

If there is anything particular you would like to become involved with, then it is best to let the supervisor know at the outset, but don’t appear upset if this is not possible.

What things shouldn’t a novice digger say to the site supervisor when first arriving at the dig?

“I don’t do mud/rain/mornings etc!”, “What time do we finish” or anything critical about the site/arrangements/personnel etc unless you want to lose brownie points and/or find yourself doing things you hate.

And finally: what has been your weirdest/most intriguing/favourite find?

The most intriguing find is the hearth that we are currently excavating at Green. It has a complex structure underneath it that is connected to shallow (drainage?) channels in the floor of the building. There is no comparison for this arrangement elsewhere and we have yet to find an explanation for its function.