Talk on archaeological surveying – 20 February

David Sabin, of Archaeological Surveys Ltd gave a talk to a packed Upper Deverills Village Hall on Thursday February 20th, and it was hugely encouraging to see so many DAG members, local residents and others turning out on a cold, wet February night! David works with English Heritage and is a specialist geophysical surveyor with over 25 years experience, carrying out over 60 projects a year.

He took his audience on a tour of important archaeological sites throughout Wiltshire in which he and his company have played instrumental investigative roles. He has used a wide range of geophysical techniques and equipment including ground penetrating radar, resistivity and geomagnetism. Each technique has specific uses depending on the ground conditions and what is under investigation.

David’s work is mostly funded by developers who need to establish whether important archaeology may be located in an area where they intend to develop. This is particularly true where sizeable towns such as Swindon are expanding, and lie at the crossroads of important Roman routes. His work has been key to discovering the extent and complexity of Roman settlements to the east of Swindon, and hopefully safeguarding these sites from destructive development.

It was very kind of David to bring along his  expensive and well-used magnetometer. This piece of equipment was a German model mounted on wheels which can cover several hectares of ground in a single day!

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David demonstrating the very latest in mobile bedsteads

A big difference compared with the hand-held resistivity kit we will be taking delivery of in March. When fully trained and competent we might cover a few hundred square metres in a day!  No matter, maybe we can save up for a few years……..(Ed. decades?!)

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Oh for a few quid!

David rounded off the evening with a summary of the results of his survey of the Deverill Villa, which showed us just how vital geophysical work is when exploring sites for the first time. It is accurate and can be very efficient given the right kit – and expertise.


Inspired by his talk, a few hardy members of DAG are now itching to get their hands on our own resistivity kit at the training on 15 March!

Blog by David Croot.  Photos by Matthew Tagney

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