If you would like to get involved, or find out more about surveys near you, please contact us.
If you are interested in volunteering on the project, please read through our frequently asked questions below.
What is geophysical survey?
Geophysical survey, also known as ‘geofizz’ on TV’s Time Team, is a way of ‘seeing’ below the ground without excavation. It is used to map buried archaeology – whether buried walls, or infilled ditches or pits. It forms the cornerstone of work to be carried out by the project, and as it is totally non-intrusive is suitable to carry out at a wide range of sites.
Two main types are used in archaeology – magnetic survey or ‘mag’ and resistivity or ‘res’. The first records small variations in magnetic field which are often caused by past activity in an area –it’s very good at identifying ; the latter records change in the electric conductivity of the soil, cause by how much moisture the soil contains.
What will I be required to do on site?
There are a number of different roles as part of a small team doing geophysics; you will be involved in all of them on a survey to make sure everyone gets a go at everything.
The first task of any survey is to set up a grid, which will form the basis of all measurements taken; this is carried out using tape measures and a bit of basic maths!
Both types of survey involve walking with a machine in a straight line collecting data systematically. The guide for this is a rope line which is moved by two willing volunteers at each end.
When will I get to see the results?
The great thing about this type of survey is that the results can be rapidly downloaded to a laptop computer and very quickly we can see a plan of buried features; further processing brings out features of archaeological interest and helps us to interpret them. We will be doing some of this work on site together; you will also be sent a copy of the report for each survey once it has been produced.
Are you planning anything other activities other than survey?
We need volunteer help both before and after a survey, as often geophysics is very useful as part of a wider programme of archaeological investigation. Please contact us to find out about both desk based research before surveys, as well as possible events like fieldwalking, carried out afterwards.
Will we be working in all weathers?Most geophysics equipment continues to work in most weathers, and we do have to face the fact that we are in the south-west of Scotland! That said, we will be sensible about the weather, and won’t work when it would be dangerous or very uncomfortable to do so. If you are in doubt before setting out to a survey, you will be given the Development Officer’s mobile number to call.
What should I wear?
Given the unpredictable weather, even over summer, please make sure you bring warm, waterproof clothing with you. Make sure you wear sturdy footwear as well; wellies often work best.
For magnetic survey, you need to wear no magnetic metal. This includes glasses, watches and zips. The best thing is tracksuit bottoms, wellies and several jumpers to keep you warm. You will be advised if we are going to carry out magnetic survey so that you can prepare for it!
What should I bring?
We will be carrying out survey in remote areas, so please bring a packed lunch, plenty of drink and a flask of something hot for tea break. Please also bear in mind that you might need sun cream when it’s hot.
We supply all equipment and tools needed to carry out the survey.
I have limited mobility…can I still take part?
There are a number of different jobs on site, some of which require less walking than others. However, we do need help off-site as well. We would love to chat about how you might become involved if you have limited mobility – please do contact us.
I don’t drive…can I still take part?
We are trying to carry out surveys which are within easy reach of public transport. We may also be able to offer lifts from public transport hubs – please contact us to find out more.
Is there any suggested reading to help me get my head around this all?
A really approachable introduction is Chris Gaffney and John Gater’s (of Time Team fame) Revealing the Buried Past – a copy will be available to look at on site. Also very useful is English Heritage’s Online Guide, available here http://bit.ly/Geophys
Remember, if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.