You are currently browsing the daily archive for 30/01/2018.

Today we welcome new team member Alice Farnsworth, who will be available and pop in from time to time to provide answers to your archaeological problems. So without further ado, let’s get on with today’s query.


Q. How can I tell if ‘lumps and bumps’ seen in a local field are archaeologically significant? The landowner won’t let me onto his land to investigate closely.

A. Obviously, without the landowner’s permission, any access would technically be trespass unless you’re lucky enough to have a public right of way across the land which passes close to the ‘lumps and bumps’. However, there are online resources that can be used to determine whether anything is already known about the area. The three main map-based resources are: for England, the DEFRA ‘MAGIC‘ map, for Wales, COFLEIN, and for Scotland, CANMORE. All three of these allow browsing on OS-based maps, and provide access to the Heritage Environment Record entries for known features.

If no entry is found, then  satellite imagery from Google Maps or Bing Maps may provide some additional clues, and are always worth checking out. Another excellent map resource is held by the National Library of Scotland, where OS maps back to the 1840s can be examined, along with many other map series. One word of caution when using these old maps: interpretation of sites can change over the years. e.g. what may be described as a ‘stone circle’ on an older map may consequently be interpreted as a ‘hut circle’ or ‘enclosure’. Despite this, old maps may also show features which have subsequently been considered insignificant or lost, and can therefore be useful in providing clues for reinterpretation.

So why not take these tips, do some research, and let us know what you find?


If you’ve got an archaeology related question or problem for Alice to answer, let us know in the comments below, and watch for further Answers from Alice…


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