In 1996 Mackie Westbrook, a past president of our society, wrote a history of our presidents from our founding in 1859 to 1884. We're happy to present that history to you here, with his kind permission, in PDF form. Just click here. Thanks, Mackie!
The March 13, 2017, Members Meeting has been cancelled due to weather. Stay home, stay warm, stay safe.
Last night's whisky tasting was a great success. We hope you'll join us next spring when we do it again!
photos: Kevin Hansen
Online ticket sales for our November 14, 2016 whisky tasting are now open to the general public. Member pre-sales have been brisk, so remaining seats are limited.
This month we explore "Selections from Bruichladdich.”
With much sadness we report that long-time member Bruce McGarigle died on September 6, 2016 at the age of 84.
A memorial service will be held for Bruce on Friday, Sept. 16th at Mount Carmel Lutheran Church, 8424 W. Center St., Milwaukee. Visitation will be from 9–11am, with service at 11am. Burial will be at Highland Memorial Park, 14875 W. Greenfield Ave., New Berlin, following lunch.
Bruce's wife Karen has asked that as many members as possible come to the service to honor him, kilted of course. We would like to meet at the church at approximately 10:00am.
Further details here.
A great Scottish kick-off to summer.
Here are some great photos from last Friday night's President's Dinner at the Wisconsin Club's Country Club. It was a grand affair! [Photos by Kevin Hansen and Cindy Hansen.]
Tickets for our January 23, 2016 Robert Burns Banquet are now available, and can be purchased online from this very web site!
UPDATE: January 18, 2016. The banquet is now sold out.
At our table in the Cultural Tent at this year's Irish Fest we had a lovely time with members both present and future.
by Aidanne MacDonald-Milewski
Good morning from Orkney! This has been quite the week. I'm learning so much by working at the Ness!
Last Thursday I learned how to sort organic materials that are found in soil samples by a process called flotation, where you soak the sample with water to wash away the mud and gently sieve off whatever floats.
Last Friday I spent troweling away, but within the last hour of the day, I found a broken piece of pottery, a piece of flint, and a round, worked stone pot lid! I don't think I could have ended the week on a better note.
Then Saturday, our group of students went to the island of Rousay, which was truly something to see because it had Neolithic, Iron Age, Pictish, Viking Age and Medieval period structures present in a relatively small area! We were able to visit Midhowe cairn, Midhowe broch and three different burial mounds, two of which were excavated. It was really interesting to see the layers of occupation at Midhowe broch, because the broch was from the Neolithic period and the surrounding side houses were of the Pictish style. That day we were gone from 9:30am—6:30pm, so it was a long day but a good one!
Then Sunday was "open day" at the Ness. This is a day that is geared toward educating the local people who can't make it to the site during the work week, about what's newly found at the Ness. That meant though that we were working again, troweling away! I posted this picture because I'm becoming very attached to this piece of the trench! But I also learned a bit about the culture of the Neolithic people, such as how they drilled stone to make tools, and how they used different resources around them (such as volcanic rock, charcoal, bones) to make paints! I also learned the methods by which they likely carved stones which was all really interesting!
Then Monday and Tuesday I continued to trowel away, trying to determine where the edge of the midden pits of my part of trench t were! It's neat being able to see the different soil deposits so clearly after digging in the same one for days! Then, Tuesday night I went to a lecture held by Martin Carrithers on Iron Age Orkney's Neolithic inheritance where he described examples of how the Iron Age people reused Neolithic structures to build their own, which was different from the Bronze Age people who built their settlements around Neolithic sites.
Wednesday and yesterday I was taught how to carry out a pre-excavation plan, so I've been transferring what I see on the ground to scale on gridded paper! I really like this process, I think I've enjoyed it the most of everything I've done so far, however, obviously finding things by troweling is an amazing feeling!
Also, if any of you are interested in knowing what's going on in trench t more extensively, yesterday's orkneyjar Ness of Brodgar dig diary blog featured trench t! And I wrote part of the blog post! I will post the link later but for now I have to go! Back to the drawing board.
by Aidanne MacDonald-Milewski
Today was day three for me at the Ness of Brodgar! I must say my wrists and knees are sore but that means I've made progress!
Yesterday I spent the whole day cleaning the surface of a strip of trench t, which means I removed about a quarter inch at a time. Today I actually got to dig a bit deeper, so I was able to remove closer to one inch at a time! The context (or soil layer in which we're working) is a midden layer where I've been finding cool things like bird and fish bones as well as small deposits of charcoal. One of my peers found a stone spatula yesterday, so hopefully I will be able to find a Neolithic tool at some point as well! Tomorrow I get to work in the flotation lab, where I will be separating the organic materials from different soil samples! I have heard it's a messy process, to which I say bring it on! I have my waterproofs.
My trowel continues to serve me well and the weather was beautiful today in Orkney so I couldn't be a happier camper!
by Aidanne MacDonald-Milewski
Today was my first day of excavating at the Ness of Brodgar! After getting our equipment, we learned how to log our findings, both small scale and general, and we also got a tour of the site and insight into its potential functions. The site is broken up into trench p and t. Neither trench likely served as a permanent residential space. When given the tour of tench p, we learned that it was likely a gathering space for either trade, meetings or religious purposes. After the tour of trench p, we moved onto trench t, where there is currently a large mound of rocks and some subterranean standing stones. It is still in question whether or not there was a series of standing stones lining the path to trench p or if the stones were randomly freestanding. Also in question is the purpose of the mound of stones adjoining these subterranean standing stones. Today I was working in trench T! If I find something (like a bone, pottery shard or carved stone) you will be hearing about it!! Also, trowels are key to a successful excavation!