News & Projects
Exceptionally wet conditions so far this Autumn have produced dreadful ground conditions across much of the UK, areas of open soil can be extremely difficult to survey and data sets may be unacceptably noisy due to erratic movement and soil accumulating on footwear and equipment. The latter is often associated with ground contamination by so called 'green waste' where organic material derived from garden waste has been spread across fields. This material is often not properly screened for rubbish such as plastics, wire and miscellaneous metal objects which are also spread with the waste. Some of these particles are highly magnetic and can easily stick to footwear and wheels resulting in magnetic disturbance ranging from very low to very high and potentially obscuring archaeological features.
Archaeological Surveys Ltd was commissioned by the Malmesbury History Society to undertake a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of accessible areas around the abbey and adjacent areas. Variable results were obtained but include anomalies relating to the northern cloister, the crossing, presbytery and transepts. Fragments of the abbey complex were also located by GPR surveying within Abbey House Gardens to the east and behind The Old Bell Hotel to the north west. The GPR survey also located fragments of St Paul's church to the south of the abbey. No significant features were identified within the churchyard to the south of the abbey, although the GPR profiles indicate the presence of a very large number of graves probably confirming the area had been used for burial by the town from the medieval up until the Victorian period. The GPR results within the abbey were poor probably as a result of the floor and shallow subsurface make-up; despite the presence of numerous memorial ledgers within the floor, there was very little evidence for graves below it, and although 19th and 20th century renovations may have removed them, it is possible that high levels of GPR absorption have restricted penetration.
Magnetometry carried out by Archaeological Surveys Ltd at Aldbourne, Wiltshire, has successfully located anomalies relating to Nissen huts used by Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the US army preparing for D-Day. Subsequent excavation, as part of Operation Nightingale, revealed concrete pads forming the foundations of one of the huts along with finds dating to the use and occupation of the site.
Magnetic debris is located by virtually all magnetometry surveys and often dismissed as modern topsoil junk. However, we shouldn't be too hasty in considering this material insignificant, it represents something and perhaps could be the only archaeological evidence of a past event, activity, settlement, etc. This article considers sources of magnetic debris and what sort of archaeological information may be derived from it.
My day of work with Archaeological Surveys LTD carrying out a ground penetrating RADAR survey.
Magnetometry undertaken at Tysoe, Warwickshire in 2017 and 2018 has revealed further evidence for extensive Romano-British and prehistoric settlement. Several sites previously identified by fieldwalking in the 1990s, and geophysics in 2010/2011, were chosen for additional wide area magnetometry survey. The results indicate numerous enclosures, field systems and track ways surrounding core settlement areas. The complexity of many of the sites infers long periods of settlement, possibly from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period.