Day Three

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!

First Day at the Ness of Brodgar

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!

Thanks from Aidanne!

by Aidanne MacDonald-Milewski

I would like to thank the Saint Andrew's Society of the City of Milwaukee for granting me an incredible scholarship to study and excavate as an archaeology student at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney, Scotland this summer. Nearly 1,200 professional archaeologists and volunteers applied to excavate at the Ness this summer and were turned away. I will be one of nearly one hundred people working on this site! I am so thankful for your support with this incredible opportunity, and look forward to sharing my experiences with you. I will begin excavating tomorrow morning after our group of 13 students takes a trip to the field supply shop. You can count on the fact that I will be posting regularly about my experiences! :)

My tour of Orkney began today with a trip to five different sites. First we visited Skara Brae, which is a 5000 year old, subterranean Neolithic village. It's amazing the level of civilization the people had at this time and how they structured their living spaces. One concern with this site, and with many in Orkney, is that due to erosion from the ocean, part of the site may currently be underwater, and at some point may become it's own island with the way the water comes in.

We then visited the Broch of Birsay which is on an island off the mainland. It was a Viking Age settlement from approximately 1000 ya, and was likely the most important village of its time prior to Kirkwall becoming the most important city space. We didn't walk out to the site due to the fact that the causeway was flooded by the tide!

After that, we walked around the Palace of Birsay, which was an old 16th century palace in ruins. The people who lived there apparently weren't the nicest but the architecture of the building was something to see! It was a three story structure with three different wings and was in nearly the same shape as the ruins that were thousands of years older. We figured this was due to exposure to elements that wouldn't have had as big of an impact on subterranean structures.

Then we made our way to the Kirbuster museum which basically reconstructed what life in 19th century farm house in Orkney would have been like. The gentleman running the museum actually lit a peat fire in the house, which would have been something to have experienced daily!

From the museum we made our way to the Broch of Gurness, which is an Iron Age settlement (2000ya) which likely served some protective and religious purposes. It was neat that we were able to walk around and through the ruins, which we weren't allowed to do at Skara Brae. Apparently close to 20 family members of an elite group would have lived in the center structure of this site, and nearly one hundred other villages would have lived within the periphery of the middle building. It's amazing being able to walk through so much history!

I cannot wait to share what I learn and find at the Ness! Again, you made this possible. Thank you :) As they say here, Cheers!

Flower of the Forest

We report with sadness that Mary Bowers, wife of member Tim Bowers, has died after a long illness. Our thoughts are with Tim and the Bowers family.

Mary's obituary is here.

The 2015 President's Dinner

A wonderful evening, a successful auction, and congratulations to 2015 President's Award honoree Jack Schafer.

Flower of the Forest

Sad news: Jimmy Fraser died this morning. He had been a member of Saint Andrew's Society of the City of Milwaukee for over 60 years. More details to come.

Tulip Saltire

The tulips are blooming at the Robert Burns statue. And they form a saltire!


President's Dinner May 8

The 2015 President's Dinner is coming up: May 8th at the Wisconsin Club's Country Club. Members, see our Upcoming Events page for more information, and check your email for details on how to RSVP.

It's Sold Out, for Peat's Sake!

All 100 seats for our April 13, 2015, whisky tasting are now spoken for. Any new reservation requests will be added to our waiting list with no guarantee of attendance.

April Elections

It's time to vote. At our April 13, 2015, member meeting we'll be voting on our slate of officers, managers and trustees.

Our nominating committee has proposed the following slate for your consideration. (Unless noted otherwise, these candidates are incumbents.) Nominations are also welcome from the floor at this meeting.

NOTE: your membership must be current—that is, paid up at least through the end of 2015—to be able to vote in this election.

Officers—one-year terms

President: Dale Larson
1st Vice President: Harold Hansen
2nd Vice President: Bill Reid
Recording Secretary: Larry Kascht
Assistant Secretary: Bruce Seeds
Corresponding Secretary: Jody Allen (new to this position)
Activities Secretary: Brenden McDaniel
Treasurer: Tom Westgaard

Managers—two-year terms

Laxson Boyd
Earl Lemon
Steve Perrigo (new to this position)
Peggy Ruetz

Craig Jordan (new to this position, one-year to fill vacated seat)
(Dan Bell, Vince Milewski, and Jack Schafer were voted in last year and continue to serve their two-year terms.)

Trustees—one-year terms

Bob McWilliam
Ian Day
Tom Cooper

Your Challenge Coin

Every new member of this Saint Andrew's Society receives a challenge coin. (More information here.) The podcast "99% Invisible" just posted an episode about challenge coins called "Coin Check." It's really good! You should listen to it.

The 2015 Burns Banquet

It was a wonderful evening.

Kilt Pin Found

Did you lose a kilt pin at the Burns Banquet Saturday night? We found one. Please email us at with a clear description of it, and we'll find a way to get it back to you.

2015 Robert Burns Banquet Tickets Now Available

Please join us January 24, 2015 at the Wisconsin Club, 900 West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee for the Robert Burns Banquet.

Cocktails from 5:30PM to 6:30PM
Banquet begins at 6:30PM with opening ceremonies 

Free valet parking will be available.

$65.00 per person 

Tickets available only by advance purchase prior to January 19, 2015. 

Entertainment: Billy Mitchell Pipe Band, Caledonian Scottish Dancers, Milwaukee Scottish Pipe and Drums.

To reserve seating contact Tom Westgaard at 

And then send your check (payable to Saint Andrew’s Society of Milwaukee) to:

Tom Westgaard, Treasurer 
P.O. Box 210288
Milwaukee, WI 53221-8005 

Please note with your payment any special meal requirements you may have, e.g. gluten free.

You will receive a receipt in the mail upon payment.


Thanks to members who helped ring bells for the Salvation Army. And big thanks to all those who helped fill the bucket!

Auction Results

Many, many thanks to those who contributed items for our fall auction, and even more thanks to those who bid on those items. The money raised will allow us to continue our long-term mission of helping others, or as we put it: Relieving the Distressed.

December Meeting - Usual Place, Day and Time.

Just a note: the next member meeting of Saint Andrew's Society will be at our usual location—The Wisconsin Club—on our usual day—the second Monday of the month. So: December 8, 2014. 7:30pm. See you there!