Talk on remote sensing in archaeology

James Lyall of will be talking to the Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society later this week on “Archaeology without excavation: how remote sensing has changed our perception of the past“.

If that strikes you as somewhat dull, anyone with an interest in archaeology will tell you otherwise. Remember the early days of “Time Team” when the amazing invention of ground penetrating radar first came to public attention as a tool for reading the past? The website Current Archaeology, describing the history of Time Team programme, has this to say:

The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place during the fledgling Time Team‘s first episode. Filmed at Athelney, site of Alfred the Great’s apocraphal burnt cakes, the site was scheduled, precluding excavation. Instead John Gater, the programme’s ‘geophys’ wizard, surveyed the field. Despite the Ancient Monuments Laboratory having drawn a blank the year before, John’s state-of-the-art kit revealed the monastic complex in startling clarity. Best of all, the cameras were rolling to capture the archaeologists’ euphoria as the geophysical plot emerged from a bulky printer in the back of the survey vehicle.

As well as an arresting demonstration of the power of teamwork, Athelney showed how geophysics could be the heart of the programme. As Mick Aston observed ‘the geophys and Time Team have always gone hand in hand. It is the programme really. Geophysics gives you that instant picture you can then evaluate’. John has kept on top of technical advances, and the results of his survey of Brancaster Roman fort provide one of the outstanding moments in the (then) forthcoming season 20. The breathtaking 3D model it produced of the buried structures persuaded English Heritage to commission a complete survey on the spot.”

So it sounds as though this talk will be quite exciting. James will describe how remote sensing, and in particular geophysical survey, has changed the way we look at and understand our archaeological heritage. He will give a brief history of the subject, and then using a number of case studies, will demonstrate how much we can learn without ever requiring a trowel to scrape the soil.

Non members are always welcome for a small donation, or you can become a member on the night.





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