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Lammermuir field systemsLammermuir field systems. Image: Davido Connolly

Archaeological survey and recording made easy


Amateur archaeologists can now get a step by step lesson in their own homes from professionals in how to survey and record rural settlements in Scotland.

Four videos showcasing different archaeological surveying and recording techniques were launched online on 11 April, 2011,  and are available to view and download from the Scotlands Rural Past website, YouTube and Vimeo.

SRP website

SRP website

Produced by Scotland’s Rural Past (SRP), a Scotland-wide project supported by the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments (RCHAMS), and comprising 65 volunteer-led projects involved in researching and recording medieval and later rural settlements, the videos aim to give detailed instructions to volunteers and students across the country.

Field sketching, using hand-held GPS devices, tape and offset, and plane table techniques are all covered in the videos, with a step by step guide on how to carry these out.

The videos are based on free training courses run by SRP for volunteers; to date 40 courses have taken place across Scotland covering a range of skills which enable volunteers to identify and record archaeological features in the landscape.

The demand for SRP fieldwork training courses continues to be high, so these videos aim to plug the gap that will arise when the SRP project’s funding comes to an end in September, as well as making these skills more widely accessible.

By making the videos available to download, the SRP team hopes to teach volunteers about archaeological surveying techniques long after the SRP project ends, and to inspire people to become more actively involved with their heritage.

Creating a field sketch

Tertia Barnett, SRP Project Manager, said: “These videos will provide a great legacy for years to come.  They’re a really useful tool for anyone interested in archaeology, and we hope that they will encourage more people to explore the landscape around them.” She added,  “Archaeological survey and recording helps you look at the landscape more closely and understand it better. These videos are aimed at anyone who is interested in how our landscape has developed, regardless of whether or not they have archaeological experience. The videos are self explanatory and can be used by volunteers to build up skills and experience gradually.”

A variety of exciting discoveries have been made by several of the 65 volunteer led projects SRP has run over the years, including the discovery of an early medieval chapel in Mull complete with a 7th century carved cross; over 50 illicit whisky stills and prehistoric rock carvings in Strathconon, and community excavations involving several hundred local people at the abandoned township of High Morlaggan in Argyll.

A fieldwork manual, aimed at volunteers and students, which covers a wider range of techniques and provides further context for the videos, will be published by SRP in September 2011 and will be available from RCAHMS and on the SRP website.

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