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Saxon Survey, September 2014

Magnetometry survey in foreground, metal detection in distance.

Magnetometry survey in foreground, metal detection in distance.

On September 19th and 20th, 2014, the Saxons in the Meon Valley team organised an archaeological survey of a site near East Meon Village. The project was lead by Winchester University archaeologist Dr Nick Stoodley (notes on whose talk to East Meon History Group on ‘Surveying for Saxons’ can be seen by clicking here.

On each day, East Meon volunteers were joined by experienced surveyors and metal detectorists, and instructed in the techniques for non-invasive surveying, namely Metal Detecting, Resistivity and Magnetometry. Each day started with Nick Stoodley explaining the purpose of the exercise. He had chosen the site because of previous finds of late Saxon objects, i.e. 10th and 11th century. It is known that East Meon was a significant Saxon community, but it is difficult to conduct a survey inside the built-up area. He had hopes that the site he had chosen would reveal a settlement, perhaps a farm, just outside the main village.

Each of the East Meon volunteers was able to use both metal detecting and surveying technology. The metal detectors used GPS locators to record the exact position of any find, which was bagged and logged.
Metal detectorists, John Whittaker in foreground.

Metal detectorists, John Whittaker in foreground.

The most notable find by the metal detectorists was a Roman coin, which has been sent for validation. Several small lumps of lead were unearthed, and a musket ball from the Civil War.

Richard Dampney on left, with detectorists John Macnee and Geoffrey Slingsby,

Richard Dampney on left, with detectorists John Macnee and Geoffrey Slingsby,

Carl Raven of Liss Archaeological Society provided the geophysical survey equipment and expertise. The first step was to set up a carefully measured grid of canes and tapes, giving the exact lines along which the scans would be conducted. Carl coached two sets of volunteers, on Friday using a resistivity scanner, on the Saturday magnetometers.

On the first day, Carl coached the volunteers in the use of a electrical resistance meter. Its metal probes are inserted into the ground to obtain a reading of the local electrical resistance Archaeological features can be mapped when they are of higher or lower resistivity than their surroundings – for instance, a stone foundation might impede the flow of electricity, while the organic deposits within a midden might conduct electricity more easily than surrounding soils.The team started scanning along the lines of the grid. On the following morning Carl returned with printouts of the scans … ‘great images, but nothing is detected’.

On the Saturday, Carl demonstrated the use of magnetometers, which measure variations in the earth’s magnetic field. They react strongly to iron and steel, brick, burned soil, and many types of rock. They scanned the rest of the grid.

Carl Raven and Nick Stoodley have written a full report, which can be downloaded as a PDF, click here. Although some areas of turbulence were detected, and items found from periods earlier and later than the Saxon period, there was not sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation, unless a wider survey were conducted.

For notes on Nick Stoodley’s briefing talk on Surveying for Saxons, click here.

For a brief history of Saxon East Meon, click here.

For background material on Saxons in East Meon on the digital archive, click here
Panorama, team getting ready.