Rain, hail, wind – we battled through all of these on our first day at Dowalton Loch. But what a cracking day we had today, after the trials of yesterday!
We have spent the last two days at Long Castle of Boreland, interpreting and recording the site through plane table, total station and GPS survey. Our team of hardy volunteers are becoming more confident with these techniques, and we’re almost finished at the castle site. George brought a survival unit, a bit like a tent but without poles, under which some of us huddled like penguins at breaktime. Character building, perhaps?
Drawing a sketch plan of Long Castle of Boreland
Today we began a geophysical survey of Inner Wood Hill to try to locate the possible enclosure, see RCAHMS for more information on this site. We’ll continue this tomorrow.
Strat was disappointed that his brand new raspberry coloured thermos flask left his tea only lukewarm at lunchtime. He yearned for a hot cup of tea for the rest of the day.
Tomorrow we plan to finish off at Dowalton Loch. Strat will take a group to do a recce of Annat Hill while AOC’s Gemma supervises the last bit of survey at Long castle and Charlottesupervises the geophysics at Inner Wood Hill. Please come along and get involved; meet at 9.30am at The Whithorn Story Visitor Centre tomorrow, Friday and Saturday (20th-22nd October). All welcome!
Monday 17th October 2011 at 7pm in the Whithorn Trust Visitor Centre.
AOC’s Dr Graeme Cavers will give a talk on the identification, interpretation and recording of archaeological sites, and will outline the areas to be surveyed during The Machars Archaeology Project
We had two very successful days of survey training over the weekend. Eleven keen volunteers learned how to use the total station and GPS, how to conduct a resistivity survey and how to draw plans using plane table survey techniques; lots more people came along to watch. We conducted a geophysical survey at Castle Hill to try to find out if any features exist beneath the ground surface, and also recorded existing features and contours using the GPS. We recorded extant features at The Priory using the total station and plane table survey.
Resistivity Survey, Castle Hill
AOC’s Graeme and Charlotte taught volunteers how to conduct a resistivity survey on Castle Hill, historically believed to have been the site of a castle. On Saturday we surveyed the top of the ridge; initial results suggested that there may be sub-surface features at the northern end of the ridge. On Sunday we conducted a higher resolution survey of this area, taking readings every 50cm instead of every 1m. This resulted in a clearer image of the sub-surface features. We also surveyed the flat area to the south of the ridge.
Volunteers conduct a resistivity survey at Castle Hill.
Plane Table & Total Station Survey, The Priory
AOC’s Gemma taught volunteers how to conduct a plane table survey to map the visible features in The Priory. They also surveyed the area using the total station, an electronic device used to create 3D maps of sites and features.
The results of the volunteers' plane table survey. Not bad!
AOC's Gemma teaches volunteers how to use the total station.
The weekend of 24th/25th September will see the session of survey training. This will be on the job training looking at Castlehill in Whithorn and the Priory ruins.
If everyone can meet at the Whithorn Trust Visitor Centre at 10am on Saturday (and if you just want to come on Sunday same time and place). We will hope to be surveying until 5pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday when everyone will be welcome for tea/cakes and a debrief back at the Visitor Centre.
Since the survey aspect of the project will take us out in the field we will have to impose a minimum age for participants. Whilst those over 12 will be welcome, they will have to be accompanied by a responsible adult. The Big Dig activity to follow at the end of October will be open to children along with their parents/family and also the school.
Please feel free to come back to the Visitor Centre at any time over the weekend to use the facilities – I will print off some project membership cards so that the staff will know you are one of the volunteers. If you bring a packed lunch please, again, feel free to use the facilities at the Centre. The Discovery Centre (at the back and up the outside steps) is an ideal spot with additional heating if you are particularly cold and need a warm up!
The official project launch for The Machars Archaeology Project was held at The Whithorn Story on Wednesday 14th of September. Around 50 people came to learn more about the project, to try their hand at survey techniques, and to sign up for The Big Dig.
AOC's Dr Graeme Cavers shows local volunteers how to conduct a resistivity survey.
The Big Dig is provisionally scheduled to take place over the last weekend of October (dates to be confirmed); lots of people have signed up to dig 1m x 1m test pits in their gardens. Archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group will assist the intrepid excavators and identify their finds. No previous experience is required, just enthusiasm! For more information and to register, please contact Janet Butterworth of The Whithorn Trust.
The Machars Archaeology Project featured in a recent article on the Past Horizons website: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2011/machars-archaeology-project
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP officially launched the Machars Archaeology Project in Whithorn this month.