Adventures with geophysics, and only a week to go until the dig commences!

Time is flying by and in just under a week the excavations on Tayne Field will begin. Volunteers and students are starting from Wednesday 25thJuly, but the core team will be turning up this weekend to start opening the trench for what we hope will be a very exciting season of excavations and discoveries. We’re all really looking forward to the change in weather that we have been promised, but anoraks and waterproof trousers are still being packed by those who’ve dug at Lyminge before!

Rained off in 2008

We've had our fair share of bad weather during the excavations - this downpour in 2008 made us all run for cover!

A couple of weeks ago we carried out some geophysics on Tayne Field. Our sci-fi equipment garnered much interest from everyone walking their dogs and collecting children from school! David Thornley and I were using a ‘mobile sensor platform’ to try to get some finer detail to compare with previous geophysical survey on the field. We have already carried out two magnetometer surveys on the site with interesting results and we wanted to see how much more detail we could achieve, particularly in the NW area close to the road. We know that several World War II buildings were located in this area. Could we see any Anglo-Saxon archaeology underneath them? It was hot and thirsty work, and Dave and I seemed to have turned up on the only sunny day since March, so we were really hoping that we would come up with something to reward our efforts on Tayne Field.

Geophysics on Tayne Field

Heaving the mobile sensor platform up and down Tayne Field, with the village as the backdrop to a beautiful sunny day. You can just see the church peeking out from behind the willow tree, and St Ethelburga's Well is just behind me.

The mobile sensor platform measures resistance in the ground to create an image of the low and high-resistance areas, reflecting any archaeology or geology that might be present. Very dry ground or perhaps the presence of a stone wall would give a high resistance reading, as a current cannot flow as well. Dave and I took turns pulling it up and down the field, which is trickier than it looks. You have to take readings every metre, moving along half a metre at a time across a 30x30m square.  A ‘beep’ from the machine sets your pace and you can’t deviate from it, which is why the person manning the cart has to concentrate so hard, as you can see from the pictures. As a result, each square takes around an hour and a half to complete.

Dave Thornley geophysics Lyminge

Dave Thornley's turn to pull the 'moon buggy', following the marked yellow line we put down every half-metre. The Coach and Horses pub (behind Dave) provided us with much needed refreshment after a hard days work!

It’s been rather wet in England recently (!) and that affects the results. As a consequence it doesn’t seem like we were able to get down to the Saxon layers, but we did manage to clearly identify and locate the World War II structures, and clarify the linear feature (perhaps a large boundary ditch?) towards the bottom of the field.

Resistivity Survey Tayne Field

The results of our resistivity survey of Tayne Field. You can just make out the rectangular shapes in the upper north-west area of the survey (top left), which are the remains of World War II buildings.

This now means that we can target the Anglo-Saxon archaeology more specifically, but it also gives a bit more history to the field itself. We have accounts from residents who remember these buildings before they were dismantled just after the war, so it’s another great addition to our knowledge of the history of Lyminge, both ancient and modern.

Tayne Field Magnetometry

The original magnetometer survey shows a range of features including a long linear feature towards the bottom of the slope that may be a boundary ditch.

While the results of the survey weren’t exactly what we’d hoped, it was great to have such interest from all the passers-by, a great many of whom were familiar with the work we’ve been carrying out in the village in the past few years. Many of the school children were extremely curious about what Dave and I were up to! We’ll be getting involved with the local schools in the future, for all those children who are wondering how they can take part.

We do hope we’ll be seeing many of you on weekly public tours, this year to be held on Saturdays at 2pm. We will also be holding an exciting Open Day later on in the season, so keep checking here and on our main web page for details on that as the plans come together.

Don’t forget that we are able to offer anyone who’d like to get involved the chance to volunteer for digging, finds washing, environmental processing and other activities on site, so do go to and let us know via the volunteering link if you’re interested in taking part. We can take volunteers over the age of 16 with any level of experience. Full training will be given to all volunteers, with training sessions for digging taking place on Wednesday and Saturday mornings each week. Once you have taken part in a training session you can come and dig whenever you have some free time. If you’d rather not dig but would like to take part in finds processing or any other activities, then smaller training sessions will be held as and when volunteers require them.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you in Lyminge, but if you can’t visit or volunteer then I’ll be updating the blog regularly so you can follow the excavations. In the next week or so I will be introducing the team and starting to post about our first discoveries on site!

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4 Responses to Adventures with geophysics, and only a week to go until the dig commences!

  1. Ruth Linton says:

    Can you stick an RSS feed on your WordPress blog so people who are interested are notified when you update/add new posts?
    Thanks .

  2. Ruth Linton says:

    Actually I just found it! The RSS logo doesn’t appear on the page.

  3. alexknox says:

    Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for your message, you’ve found the RSS feed link in the right-hand menu I see! We’re using a the University’s version of WordPress for the blog, and some features are slightly different or not supported. Do let us know if things aren’t working or you can’t find something that would make this blog more accessible and we’ll try to see what we can do about it.

  4. Most of us are excite about the Olympics but I think you have a far more exciting venture ahead. Good luck on your excavations on Tayne Field. Hope you find something worthy of all your efforts.

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