The summer school has officially begun! We spent yesterday at Castlehill Heritage Centre, with participants learning how to search for new archaeological sites using the LiDAR data, and how to search for site records using Canmore, relating it back to the LiDAR data. Participants also learned how to use the LiDAR data with mapping software such as Google Earth. Lastly, we looked at how to recognise characteristic Bronze Age sites such as hut circles and burnt mounds.
We then spent today exploring the landscape! When new potential archaeological sites are identified in the LiDAR data, it is necessary to go and check them out on the ground, to make sure that they are actually archaeological! We recorded a total of 13 sites today, taking photographs and creating basic written records. These sites were mostly hut circles, some of which were really impressive – lovely big facing stones on the interior – but also a possible burnt mound, an enclosure and a cairnfield (evidence of field clearance for agriculture). By the end of the day, our participants could recognise even the most ephemeral of hut circles at fifty paces without the help of the LiDAR data.
The vast majority of the sites surveyed today were previously entirely unidentified and unrecorded, and there is something to be said for the thrill of recording a ‘new’ piece of Caithness’ past. As volunteer Alan put it, “with the archaeology I’ve done in the past, I’ve been led to a hole and told to whack it with a trowel. I have learned today that there’s a real art to recognising archaeological sites! It was also a real eye-opener seeing how many ‘new’ sites have come out of the LiDAR data that hadn’t previously been recorded.”
We will be out every day for the rest of this week (last day of Summmer School Week 1 is Saturday 27th June). If you would like to come out with us and identify new traces of prehistoric life, do drop us an email and let us know, and we’ll send you all the details! Thanks very much to everyone who was with us yesterday and today, we’re looking foward to the rest of the week!