Tales of a boring man: the fieldwork experience

Fieldwork is a major part of many archaeological projects, the Round Mounds Project is no exception. Although a lot of fun and a welcome break from being stuck behind a computer or in the lab, fieldwork can also be challenging and just plain old hard work.

In this week’s post, Kevin, our very own expert technician talks us through his experience of last week’s fieldwork trip to County Durham and East Yorkshire…

Although I spend most of my time working on “enterprise” (i.e. commercial) projects for the SAGES (School of Archaeology Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading) consultancy Quest, another key part of my job is to assist in fieldwork and laboratory work on research projects. So it’s not a 9-5 Monday to Friday job, which is why I spent my Saturday evening packing my bags and checking the weather forecast…

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The Lie of the Land: analytical survey of earthworks and landscapes

In his pioneering book The Making of the English Landscape published in 1955, W.G. Hoskins noted ‘everything in the landscape is older than we think’. The evidence for this is all around us. And once you know what to look for, you can’t help but see it.

Not much of England has escaped being altered by humans. Even in the seemingly wild places – such as the bleak uplands of Dartmoor or the rugged peaks of the Lakes – you can find evidence for past human activity. These previous interventions play an integral part in defining the character of the countryside we see and value today. The earthwork banks of prehistoric enclosures, the network of roads and field boundaries that connect and divide the countryside, and the fabric of village houses are all imprints of past inhabitants. The English landscape therefore incorporates the actions, behaviour and beliefs of people, and represents a living record of the past.

The English landscape represents a living record of the past

The English landscape represents a living record of the past

Analytical survey is a powerful tool that can help unravel the stories embedded in the landscape record. Through keen observation, careful recording and thoughtful analysis of visible archaeological and historical remains, insightful interpretations of a site or landscape can emerge. It is especially powerful when combined with desk-based research – incorporating information from current and historic maps, aerial photographs, historical documents and the findings of previous research. It can also help target further research using other specialist techniques (such as geophysical survey, archaeological excavation or environmental assessment) and can provide a wider context for their results. Continue reading

Drilling to the Core of the Mound: a minimally intrusive archaeological technique

A key element of the Round Mounds Project is the use of minimally-intrusive techniques of archaeological investigation to uncover new information about large mounds in the English landscape. By using small-diameter boreholes we are able to obtain the information we need without having to resort to destructive and time-consuming excavation.

Drilling at Bramber Castle, W Sussec

The power auger in action at Bramber Castle.

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