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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.
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.
Magnetometry with Sensys FGM650 gradiometers. Archaeological Surveys director David Sabin considers the benefits of using fixed tension band gradiometers, particularly for cart-based surveys.
The Stonehenge Chubb Centenary Day, at Shrewton near Stonehenge, included several cricket matches between teams of archaeologists and Shrewton village. Cecil Chubb, born at Shrewton and a cricketer for the village, bought Stonehenge at auction in 1915 and gifted the monument to the nation in 1918. The cricket matches were played in good spirit with some of the archaeologists dressing for the period.