Abu Dhabi Islands Survey Part One

In October a survey team from the University of Southampton were involved in an archaeological and geophysical survey in collaboration with the Maritime Archaeology Stewardship Trust (MAST) and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture (ADTCA). Research was carried out on the islands of Sir Bani Yas and Marawah investigating a range of different sites. The ‘Ubaid settlements and archaeology on Marawah will be the subject of the next blog. The Bronze Age and pre-Islamic archaeology of Sir Bani Yas will be covered here.

Member of the survey team - Ahmad, Waleed and Abdallah - on the ferry heading for Sir Bani Yas

Member of the survey team – Ahmad, Waleed and Abdallah – on the ferry heading for Sir Bani Yas

The only way to arrive on Sir Bani Yas is by the ferry normally used for workers and tourists heading to the island. The journey of a few hours takes you to an island some 11km across, used as a nature reserve to attract tourists to the area. As with many of the islands along the coast of the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, archaeological remains on Sir Bani Yas include Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements, and sites of pre-Islamic and Islamic date. The 2014 season of work was used to record archaeological sites across the island using handheld GPS, for comparison with the resords of the Abu Dhabi Islands Survey (ADIAS) database fro mthe 1990s. In addition geophysical survey of two of the main sites was undertaken; at a Bronze Age site close to the island’s airport, and at the Eastern or Nestorian church site on the eastern side of the island.

Discussing the survey strategy for the Nestorian church site

Discussing the survey strategy for the Nestorian church site

Excavations of the church, now under protective shelter

Excavations of the church, now under protective shelter

The central area of the Nestorian church site, comprising the church and some possible lodgings, have already been excavated and rendered for 3D modelling, and a video covering the site can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyaTeoCmuLM. The purpose of the geophysical survey was to investigate the possibility of buried structures associated with the church using GPR and magnetometry.

GPR survey under way with Chris Healey and Waleed

GPR survey under way with Chris Healey and Waleed

Jack Hill getting to grips with the magnetometry

Jack Hill getting to grips with the magnetometry

The survey results indicated that the area to the south of the church is devoid of structural remains. However, the areas to the north and north-west give evidence of a continuation of structures, with a possible small courtyard to the west of the entrance to the church. In fact the tooography of the site beyond the modern enclosure suggests the extension of the site northwards, with pottery to the north and the location of a possible courtyard house downslope to the north.

Gridding our using RTK GPS

Gridding out using RTK GPS

In addition to the Nestorian church, a Bronze Age site was also surveyed using GPR and magnetometry. The site was thought to be a possible tomb, although evidence of bloom or slag on the survey may indicate that it is a working site of some description. Evidence of a possible kerb along one edge is plausible.

Jack Hill carrying out GPR survey on the Bronze Age site

Jack Hill carrying out GPR survey on the Bronze Age site

GPR and magnetometer survey were carried out over the area. We also conducted some photography for rectification, usig a series of markers and a monopod with DSLR camera. The plan was to produce a topographic model and plan of the visible stones of the site on the surface, and compare these with the results of the geophysical survey.

 

One of the monopod photographs for rectification

One of the monopod photographs for rectification

Detail of the GPR survey results

Detail of the GPR survey results

The survey results indicated a sub-circular stone structure, some 6m across, with a further possible working area to the south and west, and gullies or small ditches enclosing the features. We still need to map the results with the plot of stones on the surface to fully understand the nature of the site, however, it is looking more like a possible prehistoric working site, possibly for smelting copper.

The survey results from Sir Bani Yas really illustrated the potential of the archaeology of the island, and the geophysics together with the mapping of the sites suggests some possible outlets for future research. For those interested in the prehistory of the Abu Dhabi islands, however, the work on Marawah provides a wonderful example of the ‘Ubaid Neolithic in this area, more on that in the next blog!

Sunrise over the lagoons along the eastern side of Sir Bani Yas

Sunrise over the lagoons along the eastern side of Sir Bani Yas

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Blog Catch-up #2: Archaeological Survey at Buraimi Oasis

Having spent the day at British Museum a few Saturdays ago during the Seminar for Arabian Studies (https://www.thebfsa.org/) reminded me that we had conducted a survey at Buraimi Oasis earlier in the year. A paper was given on the results of the survey and the overall fieldwork, conducted by Zayed University, Abu Dhabi (http://www.zu.ac.ae/main/en/), ADTCA (http://tcaabudhabi.ae/en) and Sultan Qaboos University (http://www.squ.edu.om/) in Oman, by Dr Tim Power of Zayed University. I was involved in conducting the topographic and geophysical survey at the Oasis, and this seems like a good opportunity to put up a post on the work.

Street of the Late Islamic oasis town, showing remnants of shops and other buildings

Street of the Late Islamic oasis town, showing remnants of shops and other buildings

Buraimi Oasis is located in the north of Oman, forming part of an oasis group spanning the border between Oman and Abu Dhabi. The archaeology of the region is rich, including Palaeolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Early and Late Islamic archaeology. The earliest dated feature in the vicinity of the survey area is the so-called ‘Qaṭṭara Tomb,’ which lies immediately adjacent to the UAE border fence close to Buraimi. and dates to the Wadi Suq period (c. 2000-1300 BC). Pre-Islamic settlement and material at the oases includes material at Qaṭṭara potentially dating to the Parthian period. The Early Islamic landscape of the Oases is marked by a series of falaj providing irrigation to the area with associated settlement and scatters of Early Islamic pottery. In Buraimi Oasis a number of scatters of Early Islamic material have been noted, together with extant structural remains, with ceramics similar to those found elsewhere in the oases. Late Islamic archaeology of the oases is well-represented with continuation of the falaj system of irrigation and the presence of enclosed gardens.

More recent development in the area has led to the building of new houses, supermarkets and hotels, all of which are now encroaching on the incredible archaeology of the oasis. The Buraimi Oasis Landscape Archaeology Project (BOLAP) was established to research the archaeology of the oases and to highlight the need for conservation of the archaeological resource at Buraimi.

Tim Power and Peter Sheehan investigate Early Islamic building remains in the southern part of the oasis

Tim Power and Peter Sheehan investigate Early Islamic building remains in the southern part of the oasis

Drifting sand deposits covering remnants of buildings of Late Islamic date

Drifting sand deposits covering remnants of buildings of Late Islamic date

A preliminary season of fieldwork was conducted at the oasis in the Spring of 2014, directed by Tim Power, and involving fieldwalking, trial trench excavation, together with topographic and geophysical survey. The combined results of the work were presented at the Seminar for Arabian Studies at the British Museum on 26th July 2014, and will appear in the next proceedings of the Seminar. The topographic and geophysical survey, however, provided excellent results with the palimpsest of archaeological material at the oasis visible in the data.

Toographic survey being conducted at Buraimi Oasis

Toographic survey being conducted at Buraimi Oasis

The survey areas were gridded out using an RTK GPS to position pegs at 30m intervals. The GPS was also used to collect spot height data across the different areas with which to build topographic models to compare with the geophysical survey results. Magnetometry and GPR survey were also conducted, with magnetometry being undertaken over all of the different sample areas, and the GPR survey being targeted over features of particular interest.

Magnetometer survey under way

Magnetometer survey under way

String moving on the Early Islamic centre of the oasis with the GPR pictured

String moving on the Early Islamic centre of the oasis with the GPR pictured

The nature of the archaeology can be seen on the surface of the ground across large parts of the oasis. A number of mounds with liberal scatters of Iron Age pottery are located in the area, and the Early Islamic and Late Islamic remains of enclosed gardens, buildings and the falaj irrigation systems can also be seen in part, indicating a complex system of habitation, land use and irrigation dating back thousands of years. The modern UAE-Oman border cuts across the oases, so many of the features visible at Buraimi continue on the other side of the border fence.

Remains of Late Islamic building visible on the surface of the ground

Remains of Late Islamic building visible on the surface of the ground

Thuqb, or shafts for the falaj visible to the west of extant building remains at Buraimi

Thuqb, or shafts, for the falaj visible to the west of extant building remains at Buraimi

The results of the field season, and the topographic and geophysical surveys, indicate in part the phases of settlement across the survey areas, with walls, enclosures, falaj and other features clearly visible over what is now open terrain. The results of the survey, combined with air photographic imagery and the excellent results of the field surface collection and analysis conducted by Tim Power, Peter Sheehan and students from Zayed University, provide a layered dataset for analysis demonstrate the long and varied pattern of settlement in the oasis.

 

Detail of a small part of the magnetometer survey from Buraimi Oasis, showing the complexity and varied nature of archaeological features in the area

Detail of a small part of the magnetometer survey from Buraimi Oasis, showing the complexity and varied nature of archaeological features in the area

Detail of the interpretation of the same area, comparing the geophysics with the topographic survey results

Detail of the interpretation of the same area, comparing the geophysics with the topographic survey results

Results of the survey really highlight the amazing preservation of parts of the oasis archaeology, but also helps to underline the threat posed to this resource from future development and the need for a conservation strategy. Fortunately, as could be seen from the paper given at the Seminar, nascent conservation plans are being considered, and hopefully future work at Buraimi will produce a comprehensive assessment of the state and nature of the archaeology.

 

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Magnetometer Survey at Basing Common

After the successes of the surveys and excavation at Basing House in 2014, a second season of work is being conducted by the Basing House CAT project (http://basinghouseproject.org/) directed by Nicole and Gareth Beale. Work on the excavation is ongoing, and can be seen on the project blog. In addition to this work, however, further geophysical survey is also being conducted on Basing Common.

Elliot surveying the possible location of the siege camp on Basing Common using a magnetometer, with Basing House within the trees in the background

Elliot surveying the possible location of the siege camp on Basing Common using a magnetometer, with Basing House within the trees in the background

A combination of geophysics and metal detecting is being used over the area to provide information on the location of the Parliamentarian siege camp established in the area during the siege of Basing House. Work started today with Dominic Barker, the author, and a team of students and volunteers. Dom and others involved in the survey will be posting blogs in the coming weeks. However, the survey started well with a grid being established in the southern part of the Common.

Dom Barker gridding out using a GPS

Dom Barker gridding out using a GPS

A small area of magnetometry was covered, however, the results seem to indicate the presence of possible anomalies relating to a possible camp, including a broad ditch feature, a possible bastion, and other more ephemeral ditches and pits. The ploughsoil also indicates ferrous material over the area possibly associated with artefacts from the seige. The plan is to use metal detecting to find artefacts across the survey area, with these being bagged up and located using the GPS, allowing their distribution to be compared with the geophysical survey results. Please check back for further developments over the duration of the field season.

 

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Blog Catch-up #1: Archaeology and Survey in the Nile Delta at Naukratis

Due to commitments in the field over the last month or so it has proved difficult to keep up to date with the blog. Now seemed like a good time to produce a few posts to highlight some recent fieldwork and site visits, starting with a recent survey at Naukratis. In May 2014 I conducted geophysical survey at this archaeological site in the Nile Delta. The Naukratis fieldwork project is directed by Ross Thomas of the British Museum, and seeks to assess the surviving archaeology of this important ancient site using a range of complementary methods including topographic and geophysical survey, in addition to borehole survey and excavation, as part of a larger project directed by Alexandra Villing of the Greek and Roman department of the British Museum called ‘Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt’.

Magnetometer survey being conducted to the east of Kom Ge'if

Magnetometer survey being conducted to the east of Kom Ge’if

 

The season in May (the third season of fieldwork) added to the existing dataset from the first two seasons in 2013, mapping the extent of the ancient settlement and its association with the Canopic Branch of the River Nile.

The port of Naukratis was the earliest Greek port in Egypt, established in the late 7th century BC as a base for Greek (and Cypriot) traders and the port of the royal Pharaonic city of Sais. It was an important hub for trade and cross-cultural exchange long before the foundation of Alexandria and continued to be significant through the subsequent Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Previous fieldwork was conducted by Flinders Petrie amongst others, and concentrated on excavation of the central areas of the ancient town. Further research was required to fully understand this very important archaeological site. For this season, the magnetometer survey of the site was continued in the fields surrounding the modern village.

Two ERT profiles were also undertaken using an Allied Associates Tigre ERT. The first of the profiles ran from a point some 400m to the west of the site, over the kom or mound, to a point 400m to the east of the site, incorporating the line of the Canopic Branch of the Nile and Naukratis. This provided a section 15m deep running west-east across the southern part of the site. The main aim was to better understand the geological relationship between the river and the settlement, and to tie the profile in with the series of borehole surveys conducted along the same traverse.

 

Mohamed Roshti assisting with the ERT survey on the kom

Mohamed Roshti assisting with the ERT survey on the kom

The survey work at Naukratis has produced significant new data on the layout of the ancient town, its local environment and hinterland, including the location of the Greek sanctuary complex, the Hellenion, and the Temenos or temple enclosure at the site. The magnetometer results located a large number of mud brick and stone structures in the fields around Kom Ge’if, particularly in the north and east of the site. In addition to the plan of the ancient town, the magnetometer results also give us a much better idea of the extent of the ancient site in relation to the location and development of the Canopic branch of the Nile, which ran to the west of the ancient settlement. The magnetometry clearly shows the change from settlement to canal infilling, with structures positioned along the edge of the canal. This data is reinforced by the results of the ERT survey. The depth of deposits underlying and surrounding Kom Ge’if is suggested by the topography, with a sharp contrast between the kom and the surrounding fields. The remains of the ancient site are present, if buried, but life in the modern village of Kom Ge’if carries on. The village, with its new mosque, stands out from the surrounding floodplain, a mixture of bean fields, and brown ploughed and saturated fields prepared for planting melon. A number of venerable sheikhs’ tombs stand out on the fringes of the village. The local shepherd crosses from field to field, allowing his sheep and goats to graze on the stubble remaining from the wheat harvest, and manuring the fields in the process, then herds the flock back through the winding streets of Kom Ge’if.

 

Detail of survey results from Naukratis

Detail of survey results from Naukratis

Many of the areas of the ancient settlement still require surveying using magnetometry, and a combined strategy of ERT survey with drilling of boreholes will provide useful comparative data for particular parts of the site and its hinterland.

Shepherd leading flock to feed on cut fields

Shepherd leading flock to feed on cut fields

Donkey transport for the ERT

Donkey transport for the ERT

 

More information on the fieldwork at Naukratis can be found on the project website at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/research_projects/all_current_projects/naukratis_the_greeks_in_egypt.aspx

Also, you can discover more about the artefacts recovered from Naukratis by visiting the Online Research Catalogue at:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/online_research_catalogues/ng/naukratis_greeks_in_egypt.aspx

 

Sunset over Kom Ge'if

Sunset over Kom Ge’if

This post is a reworking of an article recently published in the International Society for Archaeological Prospection (ISAP) Newsletter for May 2014.

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Southampton confirms top 20 status amongst UK universities

Kristian Strutt:

Archaeology and Foresics at 8th place in Southampton.

Originally posted on University of Southampton's Noticeboard:

complete_university_guide_finalThe University has consolidated its position amongst the UK’s top 20 institutions by placing 19th overall in the 2015 Guardian University Guide.

The climb of five places in The Guardian follows Southampton’s rise to 16th in the recent table published by the Complete University Guide.

The news is also good for the University in the The Guardian’s subject tables where Southampton is placed in the top ten in twelve subjects:

Electrical and Electronic Engineering            2

Mechanical Engineering                                       2

Modern Languages & Linguistics                     4

Civil Engineering                                                     5

Art                                                                                  7

Computer Sciences and IT                                  8

Nursing & Midwifery                                             8

Archaeology and Forensic Science                  8

Fashion & Textiles                                                   9

Media and Communications                             9

Education                                                                 10

English & Creative Writing                                10

A number of these areas consistently perform well in The Guardian including Mechanical Engineering which has featured in the top 10 within the Guide for 10 consecutive years. Nursing & Midwifery and Computer…

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New Discoveries at Ostia Antica and the Isola Sacra

 

David Knight undertaking magnetometry in the vicinity of the Tiber levee on the Isola Sacra in 2008

David Knight undertaking magnetometry in the vicinity of the Tiber levee on the Isola Sacra in 2008

The new discovery of extensive urban remains to the north of the river Tiber at Ostia Antica http://www.portusproject.org/blog/2014/04/new-city-wall-discovered-ostia/#.U063XyX5rTc.twitter highlights part of the survey project conducted between 2008 and 2012 across the Isola Sacra, the area of delta between Ostia Antica and Portus. The Isola Sacra, defined by the modern line of the River Tiber to the south and east, the Fossa Traiana to the north, and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, covers some 250 hectares, although the prograding nature of the Tiber Delta means that the ancient Roman coastline lies some 1.5km inland from its modern counterpart, reducing the area to 150 hectares.

The Isola has been a relatively unknown area relative to the sites of Portus and Ostia Antica. Although excavation of the Necropolis di Porto in the 1940s revealed the line of the Via Flavia connecting Ostia Antica with Portus, and tombs dating from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, the ‘sacred island’ has been the focus of scant investigation, beyond archaeological findspots and more recent investigation for mitigation works (see gazetteer in Germoni et al. 2011). Survey work between 2008 and 2012 focused on the production of a high resolution magnetometer survey of the landscape, covering most of the area between the ancient coastline, close to the line of the Via della Scafa, and the Tiber and Fossa Traiana. This survey was not a hunt for possible extensions of urban areas across the Tiber or  the Fossa, but an attempt to understand the formation of this part of the delta in terms of geoarchaeological material, and the settlement and use of the zone, particularly for the Republican and Imperial periods, and the development of both Ostia Antica and Portus.

 

Results of the magnetometer survey in the southern part of the Isola Sacra. Satellite image courtesy of DigitalGlobe

Results of the magnetometer survey in the southern part of the Isola Sacra. Satellite image courtesy of DigitalGlobe

Seven seasons of survey work were conducted over the area, representing a massive effort by staff and students at the University of Southampton, the University of Cambridge and the British School at Rome, directed by Prof. Simon Keay and Prof. Martin Millett. Gridding and topographic survey was conducted with total station and RTK GPS, allowing the entire landscape to be gridded prior to the geophysical survey being conducted. Bartington Instrument fluxgate gradiometers were then used to survey across the landscape, covering an area of 150 hectares, to add to the 260 hectares covered at Portus in previous seasons, picking up on faint variations in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by buried archaeological deposits.

RTK GPS being used to survey in the vicinity of Ostia Antica by the University of Southampton and BSR team

RTK GPS being used to survey in the vicinity of Ostia Antica by the University of Southampton and BSR team

The survey deepened our understanding of the complexity of archaeological deposits across the Isola, indicating the presence of significant waterways and canals associated with Portus and the Isola Sacra, together with a system of smaller canals for drainage and irrigation, or pre-Roman or Roman date. Compared with other data such as satellite imagery, a full assessment of the nature of archaeological features was conducted (Keay, Millett and Strutt 2014). In addition targeted use of geophysical survey methods has elucidated on the presence of archaeological remains, including the presence of Late Antique walls and structures close to the Episcopio near Portus, found during GPR survey in the area.

Image showing magnetometry results superimposed on Aereo Militare image from 1957, showing the presence of the canal traversing the Isola Sacra

Image showing magnetometry results superimposed on Aereo Militare image from 1957, showing the presence of the canal traversing the Isola Sacra (from Keay, Millett and Strutt 2014)

 

 

MSc students from the University of Southampton carrying out a GPR survey in the vicinity of the Episcopio, between Portus and the Isola Sacra

MSc students from the University of Southampton carrying out a GPR survey in the vicinity of the Episcopio, between Portus and the Isola Sacra

The results of the geophysics shows traces of the formation of the delta in the area of the Isola, including magnetic features associated with the prograding nature of the delta, and previous flow of the Tiber. This is particularly marked on the Isoal close to the Fiume Morto or ancient bend in the Tiber close to Ostia Antica. The significant canal that runs from Portus appears to run all of the way across the Isola, arriving close to the modern east – west course of the Tiber.

The canal visible in the south of the Isola Sacra (from Keay, Millett and Strutt 2014)

The canal visible in the south of the Isola Sacra (from Keay, Millett and Strutt 2014)

It is in this area that the substantial remains of an extension to the town of Ostia was found. The results indicate the presence of warehouses and large municipal buildings, some measuring 140m by 80m in length and breadth. The structures are enclosed by the line of a large defensive wall, with rectangular towers, each measuring 8m across.

Detail from the magnetometer survey results from the southern part of the Isola Sacra

Detail from the magnetometer survey results from the southern part of the Isola Sacra

The findings of the urban area are exciting in their own right. However what is more edifying is the relationship between this area and the surrounding hinterland of this complex port system. Beyond the gates of the city lies a landscape of fluvial and canal features linking the wetland of the delta, with its salt pans, fields and marble marshalling areas, with the River Tiber and the surrounding settlements and farms of the Tiber Delta. The results of the survey present an image of a complex and nuanced port and fluvial system, requiring considerable further analysis to understand the full significance of the delta area in relation to its principal urban areas and the surrounding landscape.

 

Press Sources

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/size-matters-crucial-ancient-roman-city-ostia-was-40-bigger-than-previously-thought-after-british-team-uncovers-new-ruins-9265461.html

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archaeology/10770480/Ancient-Rome-was-bigger-than-previously-thought-archaeologists-find.html

http://www.lastampa.it/2014/04/16/italia/cronache/scoperta-unostia-antica-segreta-era-pi-grande-dellantica-pompei-f0SBt3SkweayIHMqGjmHeO/pagina.html

 

http://www.leggo.it/NEWS/ROMA/ostia_antica_segreta_pi_amp_ugrave_grande_pompei_foto/notizie/636381.shtml

 

http://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2014/04/16/news/ostia_antica_segreta_pi_grande_pompei-83783253/?ref=HREC1-7

 

http://video.repubblica.it/edizione/roma/scoperta-ostia-antica-segreta-era-il-doppio-di-pompei/163069/161559?ref=nrct-12

References

Germoni, P., Millett, M., Keay, S. And Strutt, K. 2011, The Isola Sacra: reconstructing the Roman landscape. In Proceedings of the Portus Workshop, March 3rd 2008, Rome.

Keay, S., Millett, M. and Strutt, K. 2014, The Canal System and Tiber Delta at Portus. Assessing the Nature of Man-Made Waterways and their Relationship with the Natural Environment . In Journal of Water History, 6, 1, 11-30.

 

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‘In the castle called Seresberi’. Old Sarum and a New Survey of the Inner and Outer Baileys

John Constable's watercolour of Old Sarum, showing the scale of the outer ramparts and the Norman motte (source: Wikicommons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Constable_-_Old_Sarum_-_WGA5198.jpg)

John Constable’s watercolour of Old Sarum, showing the scale of the outer ramparts and the Norman motte (source: Wikicommons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Constable_-_Old_Sarum_-_WGA5198.jpg)

Old Sarum in Wiltshire has always proved an emotive archaeological site. The substantial ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort and the medieval motte dominate the skyline on the A345 running north from Salisbury, and has been portrayed by scholars and artists including Stukeley and John Constable. The palimpsest of settlement at the site and in its environs encompasses the Iron Age and Romano-British periods, possible Anglo-Saxon settlement, and the medieval founding of a castle, cathedral and settlement. The site formed part of the rotten borough of Old Sarum, and its strategic position was utilised during the Second World War. The Inner and then Outer Bailey formed the focus of excavations in the first part and middle of the 20th century, first by Hawly , Hope and Montgomerie in the years preceeding the First World War, then by Rahtz in the 1940s and 1950s.

The work of Hawley and Hope commenced with excavation of the Inner Bailey in the earlier seasons. Excavation then extended to the Outer Bailey, with the 1914 season focusing on the Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace. The excavation report indicates the presence of structural remains beyond those currently visible at the site, with a number of the lesser structures having been backfilled. The later work by Rahtz focused on the ramparts of the Outer Bailey and the tunnel running through the northern section of the ramparts. The body of work left from the excavations provides ample evidence of the nature and depth of the archaeological deposits for both the Inner and Outer Baileys, although the focal point of the work was always trained on the more substantial or higher status structures and buildings of the site. Much of the urban plan of the Inner Bailey, including the Palace, the Keep and Postern Tower was revealed, although some scintillating glimpses of structures from earlier periods, including a possible Roman building some 5m below the modern ground surface, were also gained. In the Outer Bailey the excavations revealed considerable structures for the cathedral and Bishop’s Palace, but much of the area in the other three quadrants of the Outer Bailey remain a mystery. On the basis of the known archaeological evidence for the site it was decided that application of topographic and geophysical survey techniques would assist in mapping the buried remains across the remainder of the Outer Bailey, and the unexcavated parts of the Inner Bailey.

To that end staff at the University of Southampton drew up a three year project overview, and were granted permission from English Heritage, to carry out a new survey at the site and in its environs as part of student fieldwork for second and third year modules in archaeological survey and geophysical survey. Results of the survey would form the basis for students to compile their own reports for assessment on the modules.

Geophysical survey in the Outer Bailey with the spire of Salisbury Cathedral visible in the background

Geophysical survey in the Outer Bailey with the spire of Salisbury Cathedral visible in the background

The work of the staff and students this year centred on the area within the ramparts of the hillfort, some 6.5 hectares in size, with topographic survey and earth resistance and magnetometry being conducted in the Outer Bailey, and GPR survey across the Inner Bailey to target areas left unexcavated by Hawley and Hope. Survey was supervised by the author, Timothy Sly, Dominic Barker, Penny Copeland and Scott Chaussee.

Magnetometer survey in the Outer Bailey with the bridge to the Inner Bailey in the background

Magnetometer survey in the Outer Bailey with the bridge to the Inner Bailey in the background

Earth resistance survey in the Outer Bailey

Earth resistance survey in the Outer Bailey

In spite of the mixed success using magnetometry at some sites in Hampshire and Wiltshire, the nature and depth of deposits at Old Sarum meant that the flint core and stone buildings of the Outer Bailey contrast well to the surrounding sediment. In addition the response to the earth resistance survey was also clear. The preliminary results for the Outer Bailey indicate extensive structures across the entire area, with buildings spread out along the curtain wall, particularly in the south-east sector of the site, and the pattern of urban areas visible in the south-west sector.

Detail of the results of the magnetometry from the Outer Bailey

Detail of the results of the magnetometry from the Outer Bailey

Many of the structures from the Hawley and Hope and Rahtz excavations are also present, and new buildings are added to the plan of the north-west sector of the site, including a possible sub-circular structure.

The GPR survey in 2014 focused on the area of the Inner Bailey, utilising a 200MHz antenna, and on targetted areas in the Outer Bailey using a 500MHz antenna. In principle the use of the lower frequency antenna within the Inner Bailey should assist in locating some of the deeply buried structures below the level of medieval buildings mentioned in the literature. Potentially comparison of these results at 5-6m depth should allow a picture of the Iron Age and Roman deposits for the area to be compared with the results from the Outer Bailey.

GPR survey of the Inner Bailey. Many of the excavated structures give a clear indication of the potential depth of some of the deposits, up to c.5m in places. The 200MHz antenna should allow structures to be located down to these depths

GPR survey of the Inner Bailey. Many of the excavated structures give a clear indication of the potential depth of some of the deposits, up to c.5m in places. The 200MHz antenna should allow structures to be located down to these depths

In addition to the high resolution survey work, an Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) profile was run across the site, through the western entrance to the hillfort, skirting the northern side of the motte ditch, and ending close to the ramparts on the north-eastern side of the site. The profile is designed to assess the depth of archaeological sediments across the site, and their relationship to the underlying gravels and chalk.

ERT survey in a profile running across the site

ERT survey in a profile running across the site

There is much work to do for the interpretation of the results, but the correlation between the 20th century excavations and the latest results is telling. The results are allowing the team to expand on the excavation plans, showing the presence and nature of the new structures in all areas of the site, including ranges of buildings on the southern edge of the area of the Cathedral, and a substantial building standing alone in the south-eastern sector of the Outer Bailey. The plan for the next few seasons will be to complete work in the Outer Bailey, and to conduct survey in the environs of Old Sarum. The relationship between the defended site and the Roman road and settlement to the south of the ramparts will provide a focus for research.

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