The team from Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology were back on the island of Rousay two weeks ago to work with the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Römisch-Germanische Kommission (DAI) and the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute (UHI) on the largest geophysical survey ever undertaken on the island.
Once again, Frank Forrester, our work placement student from the University of Bradford, continues the story of the project..........
"Our first day, Dan Lee and I travelled to Rousay, meeting up with Jane Downs and Steve Davis of University College Dublin and going through the different sites of Rousay. before meeting the DAI team. The four team members of DAI where Knut Rassmann, Ruth Beusing, Johannes Kalmbach and Andreas Grundmann.
The team ventured out into the brilliant sunshine and travelled around the Rousay landscape, looking over the sites to be surveyed and finalising the overall approach. The UHI team then had to travel back to Kirkwall, while I stayed with the DAI team, helping them set up the surveying equipment.
The equipment itself was a 14 magnetometry system. Built on a carbon fibre frame, the 14 sensors where placed at the back-on wheels with high suspension. This frame was designed so that no metal from the quad bike, that pulled the system would interfere with the results. The cart had its own GPS attached, which was feeding back to a known base station point. This guaranteed the accuracy of the location of the cart, which in turn located the sites revealed from the survey.
Surveying started on the second day. An amazing 45 hectares were surveyed in a single day. The quadbike, allowed the team to be very moveable when surveying the fields, and yet still be fast enough to cover the large area detailed in the overall plan.
In the morning of the third day I had the chance to go through the results of the previous day. This was an amazing opportunity, as I had never seen magnetometry data on such a large scale. Being able to already pick out sites from the first set of data showed the importance of this survey and how much it can help understand the archaeology and landscape of Rousay.
Ruth and I went and collected some magnetic susceptibility data of the stone from around the area of the survey. These points included a field dyke, Midhowe Broch, Swandro, Broch farmstead and Skaill farmstead. This data was collected by using a probe sensor, first taking a measure from a control sample, then of the air around the different spots, of the stone itself and finally of the surrounding air again. This is to make sure that there is a clear measure between the stone measurement and the surrounding area.
Thursday the 19th April saw the start of the Gateway to the Atlantic: Rousay Workshop. We met the speakers and delegates at the ferry, before going on a fieldtrip of the island. This was followed by a late lunch before the start of the talks.
The second day of the workshop started with coffee at the Rousay community school, before moving into the talks. After lunch, and to stretch the legs after a long period of talks, the group went and saw some clearance sites on Rousay, as it is the only island of Orkney that was cleared. This small break was followed by a round table discussion and brainstorming session of possible future collaboration and projects. This workshop experience was incredible to see as the collaboration of all these different partners coming together is something I had never seen before. It showed me how projects can be formed between different organisations dealing with big questions."
The Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) team not only use the standard methods to survey archaeological sites, but also aerial drone photography and video.
This section of coast on the small island of Papa Westray in Orkney has experienced severe coastal erosion which has exposed significant archaeology. ORCA were commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland to complete a survey of the area around St Boniface's Church as part of a larger community archaeology project which will provide a baseline assessment of coastally eroding archaeology.
The drone video clip will form part of the baseline assessment and, together with the 3D models produced by Jim Bright and the ORCA team, gives the archaeologists a unique perspective on the structures eroding out of the cliff. The drone videos provide a very quick and cost effective method of assessing a coastline and in future may be used to create 3D models.
The coastline is eroding at an alarming rate at this point and has already receded 30cm in one year. The plan is to undertake further drone flights in subsequent years which will enable the team to assess the damage quickly and cost effectively. Using such technology also allows a client to examine a structure or remains remotely from a connected computer anywhere in the world.
The drone is operated under strict guidelines by a fully trained member of the ORCA team.
For more information on the 12th Century St Boniface's Church, cross slab and the Norse hogback grave stone see Canmore.
This blog has been created by Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology in beautiful Orkney. We aim to add features and news about our work on the islands and further afield on a regular basis.