Surveying Old Sarum

This month YAC members all met up at Old Sarum. The theme for this session was surveying – what can archaeologists learn about a site without doing any digging??

Members had a go at two different surveying activities: standing building recording and landscape archaeology.

Standing building recording

Members were taken into the Great Tower of the Norman Castle. Their task was to use a planning frame to draw a 1m by 1m square of the wall.

But their paper wasn’t 1m by 1m – this meant that they had to draw it to scale! They drew their elevations – the archaeological word for a drawing of a wall – at 1 to 10 (1:10). This meant that every 1cm on their graph paper represented 10cms of wall.

After they had drawn and labelled their elevations they had a go at using a dumpy level to work out the height of the top of their elevations.

Landscape archaeology

Members were taken on a tour around the Outer Bailey, part of the original Iron Age ditch, and had to visually survey – look at – the landscape. They had to look at the landscape today and try to work out;

  • What it might have looked like in the past?
  • What bits have changed?
  • What bits haven’t changed?
  • Why did the Iron Age peoples build their hillfort here?
  • Why was Old Sarum re-used by the Romans and Normans?
  • Members answered all of these questions and many more.
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