For most Lochbrow Landscape Project members day 9 (Friday) was the last day of the project. The last grid was surveyed, the bamboo canes and equipment were tidied away and we left the site satisfied by the volume of work completed this year, though slightly daunted by the amount of data collected. Our greatest achievement must be the completion of the north field with magnetometry, but we’ve also covered a good proportion of the south field. Our initial analysis of the data and comparison with the aerial photographs has revealed additional features which we hadn’t recognised before and also raised a number of interesting questions. There’s a lot more work to be done with the data collected, but we’re very happy with the results of this season’s work.
A hardy few, though, stayed for another day to try out a very different kind of survey …
A key part of our methodology is to apply a range of different techniques and methodologies at Lochbrow to try to gain as wide an understanding and appreciation of the sites and landscapes as possible. One of these methodologies is experiential analysis. At its core experiential analysis is about understanding sites and landscapes as social, experienced spaces, mapping and recording sentient social space and thinking about our sites as real spaces and places. It is just one way of adding another dimension to our understanding of the sites and landscapes at Lochbrow. To that end, Dorothy and Sophia used the GPS to flag out the location of the cursus and timber circle in the north field at the end of the day on Thursday. For me (Kirsty), this must have been one of the most profound parts of the project this year. For the first time I was able to locate myself exactly within these monuments and, as I walked through and around the flagged out sites, new aspects of the layout and form of the timber monuments and their relationship to the landscape began to crystallise. As I’ve been looking at these monuments on aerial photographs for a good number of years now, this was really exciting and added another dimension to my thinking about these sites.It also demonstrated how important it is to actually visit cropmark sites on the ground, even if nothing remains above ground as is the case at Lochbrow. On Friday we all processed up the cursus – the first time anyone has done that for almost 6000 years!
So on a grey and drizzly day on Saturday Kirsty, Sophie and local volunteer Nicky returned to Lochbrow to try out the experiential analysis developed for Lochbrow, which is based on work by Sue Hamilton and Ruth Whitehouse. As we walked, waved and shouted our way around the monuments, noting where we were, whether we could see, hear or recognise the others, interesting discussions arose in terms of the way in which such sites could have functioned, the way in which communication and experience may have changed and altering perception within and around these sites. We also found the time to walk around the location of the cursus and timber circle, discussing their location and thinking about why they may have been located where they are. Our wanderings drew the attention of some cows and for a short while we were being followed by a small herd of curious cows. Who knew experiential archaeology would have such a wide audience!
Saturday’s work was just a small pilot to test out the method developed and we will hopefully develop this further and undertake more experiential analysis on a larger scale during a future season. For now it has raised many more questions, given me much to think about and added a new dimension to the sites and landscapes at Lochbrow. Thanks to Sophie and Nicky for your willingness to try out a very different kind of survey and for your insightful discussion.