Resistivity, experiential archaeology and cow pats

Another week’s survey at Lochbrow has now been completed. On Saturday, we finished our last couple of survey grids, collected in all the bamboo canes marking the locations of the survey grids and flags signalling the extent of the archaeology, packed up and drove away from Lochbrow for another year. We made good progress over the last few days of fieldwork, and altogether it has been another successful year. The weather was generally very kind to us, and thankfully we weren’t washed away by the rain as originally feared! We’ve now surveyed the full length of the cursus with resistivity, as well as the rest of the timber circle (most of it was surveyed last year, identifying the post pits of this monument) and we’ve filled in some gaps in our survey. More work is required to make sense of the data gathered, but we remain excited by the identification of the timber cursus in the data, though a little puzzled by the way in which it is showing. Hopefully further study, discussion and comparison with the aerial photographs and magnetometry data will add some clarity.

We also continued with our experiential survey and hopefully now have sufficient observations for the north field. We also began to make some observations in the south field. Considerable work is now required to make sense of and to present the information and observations gathered, but they have undoubtedly already added to our understanding of the sites at Lochbrow and the landscape of which they are a part. The experiential observations add another layer to the data gathered through aerial and geophysical survey, expanding beyond data to the human, experienced, elements of the Lochbrow landscape. This can only add to the richness and depth of our understandings and interpretations of Lochbrow.

In an unexpected turn of events, on Friday I (Kirsty) ended up surveying a rather unusual set of features … When we arrived at Lochbrow this year, we observed lots of patches of darker green, longer grass. As we have lots of low-resistance pits scattered across the resistivity data, representing natural features in the drainage of the gravel terrace here, we wondered if these areas of longer grass marked the location of these pits. They were certainly curious and very marked this year, more so than in previous years. So we used the GPS to survey in the location of all of these patches in one of our survey grids to compare with the geophysical data gathered. Although we’ve not yet compared the survey points to the geophysical data, while surveying the patches of grass we quickly came to the conclusion that they in fact represent the current and former location of cow pats! It has solved a puzzle, but surveying the location of cow pats is certainly one thing I never thought I would do in my archaeological career. The Lochbrow cows definitely must have a very good diet …..!

So that is the Lochbrow Landscape Project over for another year. It has been hard work, but fun with exciting results. We’ve got plenty now to work with over the winter and several puzzles to resolve. This year Lochbrow has given up more of its secrets – it never fails in that regard – but it definitely does not give them up easily. That is part of the challenge of investigating this place and of spending time within this landscape. Lochbrow is such an amazing place with so much still to tease apart, so it always is with some sadness that we wave goodbye for another year.

Of course, none of what we have achieved would have been possible without our small band of volunteers, and we are immensely grateful for their hard work and input. We are also very grateful to the Lochbrow farmer, David Wilson, for being so accommodating each year. Thanks to each one of you. It was a real pleasure.

Yes, I really am surveying the location of cow pats!!

Yes, I really am surveying the location of cow pats!! Note the darker green patches of grass in the background. These puzzled us for a short while ….

We even found time to take the kite out for a spin!

We even found time to take the kite out for a spin

Surveying that last grid

Surveying that last grid

The University of York dream team (Julian, Helen, Eileen)

The University of York dream team (Julian, Helen, Eileen)

The road home. Goodbye to Lochbrow for another year.

The road home. Goodbye to Lochbrow for another year.

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