- by Mike Barwick
Much of Scotland's history lies below soil level. There are many ways of making this visible which range from aerial photography to underground exploration through digs and in caves. One way of discovering what is in the soil is to take advantage of natural and artificial disturbances. Heavy rain, surface runoff and seasonal high flows in rivers and tributaries can reveal hidden artefacts. Weather erosion of cliffs, quarry faces and other steep areas will also bring new material to the surface. Farmers regularly disturb the soil surface in their programme of cultivation. Ploughing in particular regularly brings new material to the surface and this may contain previously buried historic objects. The method of systematically searching the surface of a field is known as field walking.
Some 'Ground' rules.
Doing the walk.
Field walking is best carried out in two stages. First a preliminary walk of the whole area to see what is present and where finds may be concentrated. This is followed by a detailed examination of those areas that show the most promise. If it is known that a site of interest is within the area, it may be possible to go straight to a detailed examination. Pick up everything that looks man made. If the field has had domestic waste ploughed in as fertiliser, many of the finds may be recent.
Walks DPHS have carried out.
For three years, 1993-4-5, the Society participated with the Tayside and Fife Field walkers group in holding archaeological field walks on farms near Dunning. The last two, on the same field at Ian Philip's Leadketty holding, yielded several interesting finds of flints dating to the Neolithic and, even more startling, to Mesolithic times (perhaps 8 to 10 thousand years ago). These walks are reported in the DPHS magazine issues 3,4,5,6,10 and 19.
A further combined walk took place in March 1997 at Dun Knock and Leadketty. This is reported in issue 20 of the magazine. (Copies of the magazines can be obtained by contacting the DPHS committee.)
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