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, … Continue reading

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.

 


Basing House Survey Final Day – A rain check and some reflections

The second week of survey at Basing House finished on Friday in a spray of mud and rain, hailstones and inky cloud. What had promised to be a reasonable day quickly became unworkable, wet and cold. The teams set out … Continue reading

The second week of survey at Basing House finished on Friday in a spray of mud and rain, hailstones and inky cloud. What had promised to be a reasonable day quickly became unworkable, wet and cold. The teams set out for the final day of survey, focusing on completion of the magnetometry and resistivity in the area of the New House and outer bailey, and GPR over the outer bailey also. We abandoned the magnetic susceptibility to ensure that all hands were working on the res and mag. The rain set in and the GPR survey was the first to suffer, with the notebooks turning to mush.

Time for a weatherproof notebook!

Time for a weatherproof notebook!

The magnetometry continued, mopping up grids on the Civil War earthworks, and finishing the survey of the New House and outer bailey. Resistivity was completed in the Old House and the New House, although the team had suspicions that the wet weather would affect the results.

Kelly with the magnetometer

Kelly with the magnetometer

Rain? What rain?

Rain? What rain?

A new use for the resistance meter box

A new use for the resistance meter box

By midday the decision was made to start leaving the field. The resistance survey was completed and kit brought in. After lunch, and a cake-fest organised by Nicole and Gareth, the last grids of magnetometry and GPR profiles were finished, and the team started cleaning up kit and packing the van. The dark brooding skies did not change, and the bothy was locked up and all was finished by 3pm. The team headed back to Southampton for the routine of data download and meshing.

Maintenance on the Sensors and Software GPR

Maintenance on the Sensors and Software GPR

The team at the end of the survey, the Old House ringwork in the background

The team at the end of the survey, the Old House ringwork in the background

Data download revealed that the results from the resistivity were okay. The rain had affected them slightly, but some data processing should be able to deal with this. The line of the defences for the courtyard of the New House stand out spectacularly in thr results, together with features adjacent on the outer bailey. The downside is that the team did not quite complete all of the areas. The high resolution of the resistance survey at 0.5m by 0.5m travers and reading interval, meant that the work was slow. Similarly the magnetometer survey didn’t quite get started across the fence on the common. There is however plenty of scope to follow this survey up with more work in the summer alongside the excavation basinghousecat.wordpress.com.

In summary the two weeks have survey have been a success. Training apart, the team have produced a detailed topographic survey of the site, and combined resistance, magnetometer and GPR survey has been conducted within the scheduled area, providing a clear plan of the structural remains across the Old and New House, and the bailey and outer defences of the site. The students will now be using the results as part of their final assignments, and the results will go forward to help with new interpretations of the nature and extent of the earthworks and archaeological features at the site.