In week 3 of excavations, we were delighted to host Craig Piper from Solum SW Ltd – he was here to instruct postgraduate student Henry Webber on the intricacies of geophysics. The social media team chatted with Henry about his interest in geophysics and how it assists our knowledge of Berkeley.
What have you been doing at Berkeley?
For the last two weeks, we have been running a bit of the course on Geophysics to help teach the undergraduate students how to do the principle of magnetic prospection and also resistivity. We also trying out a new piece of kit called Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) so we can get much better, clear images of what we have under the paddock here in Berkeley Castle.
What are you hoping to achieve? Have there been any difficulties so far?
The surveys have all been pretty good and most of it is has gone smoothly. It is important to get students used to using geophysics equipment and setting up grids. It means that they can go out for their master’s project or dissertation and be confident that they can actually put a survey together and complete one.
We are doing a couple of surveys here in the paddock, one in the Jenner Garden and one in the Quarf Meadow. These add to the results that we did in 2006. The ones in the Quarf Meadow expanded the survey to help identify any Anglo-Saxon pottery and potential sites for future excavation.
The ‘Bristol Geophysics team’ with Craig Piper (far right) from Solum SW Ltd.
What is the importance of geophysics?
Geophysics is pretty important in the whole process of archaeology. Excavation is crucial but without geophysics we could potentially locate the trench in an archaeologically sterile area.
What inspired you to work in this area of the field?
Well, my master’s research is on the use of geophysics and archaeology, looking at how we can use it for agriculture. We can start using geophysics as a tool to integrate archaeologists and farmers. Most farmers think that archaeology is negative and doesn’t really give them anything useful, it is costly and only gives us a cultural reward rather than any direct financial reward. Using geophysics, we can provide a financial reward and knowledge about the soil for farmers, as well as looking at archaeological sites and helping heritage management.