Interpreting a Mesolithic Excavation

ArcHeritage

Industrial archaeology has been an important part of our work over the summer. In Sunderland, we contributed aerial images to a preservation by record project undertaken by Oxford Archaeology on the site of a 19th Century glassworks. Similarly, we were commissioned by Salford Archaeology to carry out an aerial survey of a former cotton mill in Oldham, which was built in the 1840s. Both sets of images were required for photogrammetric purposes and 3D modelling techniques were used in Oldham.

However, detailed aerial photography is equally useful in many other archaeological contexts and, by way of example, we recently supported a dig in Buxton, where ArcHeritage was investigating a Late Mesolithic / Early Neolithic site that had been uncovered prior to the early stages of a new construction project. Evaluation trenches had produced large numbers of flints and the archaeologists were required to carry out a thorough investigation over the rest of the site.

The photographs were used primarily to create a 2D mosaic of the site to act as a record of the ongoing work, but the images also proved very useful for helping staff to interpret the site. For example, they provided a clear indication of the location of rings (caused by cattle that had routinely gathered around relatively modern drinking troughs) and other, similarly recent marks on the land. In addition to helping to exclude certain targets, the colour detail also provided a useful guide to the location of the different soil types and thus, a suggestion as to where the areas of best preservation might be found.

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