“God bless the work”

“If a person visited during the [butter] churning, they had to say ‘God bless the work’ and help for even one turn”

The above was stated by John Long and his wife (unnamed) of Rossard, Bunclody, Co. Wexford in conversation with P. T. O’Riain in June 1940. Here now in January 2015 you find yourself visiting this site as I churn out a thesis and hopefully this old custom of support and wishing for divine intervention still survives.

The visitor was also required to help even in a very small way in order to bring the job to fruition. Over the last number of years desk-based and field survey have identified a huge number of features on the ridges, peaks and slopes of the Blackstairs that have previously been unrecorded, which are altering our understanding of this and similar landscapes elsewhere in Ireland. Mountains (and certainly the Blackstairs) are not the product of nature going unchecked and left to its own devices, Instead they are fragile landscapes with thousands of years of human impact which has fluctuated between intensive use and abandonment over time to give us the patchwork landscape we see today. The deep scars left by centuries of turf-cutting, the ruins of former homes and temporary shelters, the network of trackways in various states of visibility and the myriad of field walls across the slopes which enclose areas of dense heather and gorse and have themselves become overgrown with peat are testament to this. Most of these are post-medieval in date and and probably pre-date the Famine period and the ensuing rural depopulation. As these sites are so late in date, there is still a social memory attached to many of them even right down to the names of those who occupied or used them.

Collage 2.jpg

Some of the features you might see in the Blackstairs. Field walls and sheep passes (example Knockroe); standing stones (example Dranagh; Megalithic tombs (example Knockroe Portal Tomb); Hut Sites (example Blackrock Mountain); Cairns (example Knockroe summit); House Structures (example “The Tower” Barracks, Knockymulgurry)

I reiterate my earlier call for assistance with any information on the Blackstairs Mountains in the past that you might have. Themes that have been identified so far include:

– agricultural activity (crops, potatoes, sheep, cattle

– settlement (where houses were located, who lived in them)

– any traces of transhumance/ booleying the seasonal movement of livestock up to the mountain for the summer months where they were tended to by herders who would build shelters for themselves (Documented and recorded in many uplands but unidentified so far in the Blackstairs except in one possible case)

– Quarrying activity

– turf-cutting activity

-movement (and the methods) and the mountains as a facilitator of traffic and communication rather than a barrier

-the Famine, relief schemes and their effects.

Ballycrystal 1839

Field walls (red lines) and houses (blue dots) recorded on the First Edition Ordnance Survey Maps overlain on modern satellite imagery in Ballycrystal to the south east of Mount Leinster give an idea of the former extent of settlement and agriculture in the uplands

Similarly the Blackstairs is a landscape which is under constant alteration; in the short term due to sudden events such as fires; the seasonal with vegetational growth patterns; and the long term with forestry management and changes to land use or erosion. These changes both mask and reveal archaeological features and in some cases only for a very short window of time. So if you find yourself in the Blackstairs, keep your eyes peeled for anything that may be of archaeological significance from small artefacts such as clay pipes right up to prehistoric field systems that may appear out of eroding peat.


Clay pipe stem identified on turf-cutters trackway on the slopes of Knockroe during Carlow Walking Festival 2014

Without recording this information it will either be lost or become confused over time. A huge amount of information and leads have been provided already and I wish to thank all those who have provided these. The people on the ground are the key to understanding the past and without that this project would have hit a dead end a long time ago. Hopefully now you can help see it through to the end.


The varying modern and historic extents of field systems in the uplands


National Folklore Collection, MS 1063, page 27. Information provided by John Long and his wife of Rossard, Bunclody, Co. Wexford to P. T. O’Riain. June 1940

Feature Friday: Carloviana 2015


Carloviana 2015 Front Cover

Last night saw the launch of Carloviana 2015 (No. 63), the journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society in the Seven Oaks Hotel Carlow by Raghnall Ó Floinn, Director of the National Museum of Ireland. The editor, Martin Nevin and his team have once again brought together a bumper issue with over 208 pages of history, archaeology, folklore, genealogy and photographs of County Carlow and its wider influences.

There’s something in it for everyone but there are a number of articles which might be of particular interest for those who follow this Facebook page & blog.


Articles 1-11

There is a growing interest in the value of the Blackstairs Mountains in the last number of years and the growing number of articles focusing specifically on the region is higher in this edition than ever before.

  1. “The Flight of the Raven” by Liam O’Neill is a piece of historical fiction based on the early prehistoric remains of the area.
  2. “The Hidden Bridges of the Mountain River and its Tributaries by Francis Coady does exactly what it says on the tin and describes the development and architectural features of the little known and underappreciated Mountain River bridges (sourced in the Blackstairs) with some lovely photographs.
  3. “Improvisations on the Theme of an Irish Wall” by Roger Bennett discusses the design and construction of the Carlow wall artpiece which featured at Dublin Airport which inspired the field walls of County Carlow including those in the Blackstairs
  4. “The Ringfort Society” by Liam O’Neill discusses the early medieval settlement and ringforts around the Drumphea region
  5. “Blackstairs and Mount Leinster” by Barry Dalby describes in detail the meaning and origins of the names of these two mountains and some of their surroundings

Articles 12-23

For those more interested in archaeology rather than place, the number of articles on this subject has also increased dramatically in the last number of years and this year is no different:

  1. “Ogham Stones and County Carlow” by Dr. Colman Etchingham not only describes and discusses the Carlow examples of these features but also dispels some of the myths which often surround them!
  2. “Dinn Rígh, Co. Carlow, home to the Kings of Leinster” by Dermot Mulligan (curator of Carlow County Museum delves into the origins of the provincial name “Leinster” and its connections with this royal site
  3. “The Ballon Hill Archaeological Project” by Deirdre Kearney and Nial O’Neill introduces the history and archaeology of the hill which appears to have been of major significance in prehistory (and underappreciated until now).
  4. “The Prehistoric Houses of County Carlow” by Nial O’Neill describes and discusses the nine known prehistoric houses from County Carlow revealed through archaeological excavations all of which were found in advance of the M9/M10 motorway construction.

Articles 24-35

Of course these are just a fraction of the articles and topics featured. With Christmas less than a month away, this would make a fantastic present for anyone with even a remote interest in County Carlow’s past or history/ archaeology/ folklore in general. You can pick up a copy in a number of outlets in the county and towns. If you can’t make it back to Carlow in time, never fear, the modern age allows it to be delivered to your door from the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society’s website. There’s also an article written by yours truly, co-authored with my namesake Grandfather but you’ll have to buy it to know the title. Move quick there’s only a limited supply!!!


Back Cover featuring an enlarged drawing of Carlow Town from a Crown Commission report 1563

Feature Friday: Cairn (“The Height of Stones”) Ballyglisheen


Summit Cairn, Cloroge More, Co. Wexford

Cairns are by far the most common feature type in the Blackstairs Mountains after field wall systems. This feature type falls into many categories including summit cairns, Bronze Age burial cairns, ring cairns and field clearance cairns. Like many upland sites whose morphological features stretch across multiple periods, dates for these are often impossible to assess without excavation and even this may be fruitless. In some cases, even their function may be difficult to discern. For example a large cairn on a mountain summit may simply be a pile of stones while in other cases they are passage tombs (e.g. Seefin, Co. Wicklow WI006-003) or Bronze Age burials (e.g. Tibradden, Co, Dublin DU025-005). In some cases however local folklore can answer the question of a sites origins and function at least in the more recent past.

06. View of chamber from east

Tibradden Cairn. Heavily reworked in the 19th Century, excavation by the Royal Irish Academy in 1849 revealed a primary burial of cremated bone alongside a food vessel followed by a secondary urn burial (Evans 1966, 111)

A hillwalker climbing up Blackstairs Mountain via Knockymulgurry will follow the Old Gowlin road and eventually join either the Tower or the Wexford Road. These continue upslope and over the Cooliagh Gap (“The Meeting Point”), the site of annual Lughnasa gathering until the mid-20th Century known as “Mountain Sunday” on the last Sunday in July.  The roads were once an important communication artery between the Carlow and Wexford sides of the range as the long ridgeline created an imposing barrier to travel which otherwise needed to be circumnavigated. All are disused and overgrown today but have their own interesting stories to tell which will form the basis of future posts.


View along the Old Gowlin Road

In a relict field enclosure between the Tower and Old Gowlin Road you will see a large sub-circular central cairn of stones with two enclosing circles of stone. The central cairn is 10m in diameter and stands 1.5m high. The site is relatively flat despite its width while the radiating circles measure 25m and 31m respectively. Hawthorn trees have come to grow out of the cairn structure and it is heavily overgrown for most of the year with ferns suggesting that it may partly be an earthwork overlain with stone. It is however visible in google earth and bing imagery.

The cairn is known locally as “The Height of Stones”. It is said to originate as a memorial to a local man Mr. Cantillon who was killed at that spot by a kick from a stallion. A local tradition obliged any passer-by to add a stone to the cairn in memory of the deceased (Michael Byrne pers. comm.). Given the amount of traffic this roadway would have received both as an important routeway between County Carlow and County Wexford and during the annual gatherings it is easy to see how its size would have grown to what survives today. Similarly the fields to the north are known as “The Rye Stubbles” and it is said that they produced an excellent crop. It is possible that stones brought to the surface during ploughing were cleared onto the cairn.


Standing stone, Knockymulgurry. Known locally as Price’s Stone. It may have originally served as a route marker before the formal construction of the roads

It is also possible that this is an earlier site which was manipulated to suit a later purpose. There is large standing stone (CW025-005) to the north of the site at the old crossroads. Similarly there is Iron Age activity suggested by the Lughnasa gathering, a legend of the pre-Christian deity Cathair Mor at Caher Roe’s Den which overlooks the site as well as absolute proof in the discovery of a deer trap in a peat hag on Blackstairs Mountain in 2011.

Whatever its original date or purpose, spare a thought for Mr Cantillon next time you pass!


Byrne, Michael, Dranagh, Co. Carlow. Pers. Comm.

Conry, M. 2006 Carlow Granite: Years of History Written in Stone. Carlow; Chapelstown Press

Evans, E. E. 1966 Prehistoric and Early Christian Ireland: A guide. London; B T Batsford Ltd.


Feature Friday: The Cailín Slipes Cursus

Centuries ago a race of giants and witches inhabited the Blackstairs Mountains. Their tables, chairs and footprints can still be found across the landscape today. As in all societies rivalries built up over time and one day this escalated into a full blown feud between a witch who lived on Mount Leinster and her enemy in Wexford/ Wicklow. In her anger she picked up a stone, her fingers crushing its sides and hurled it towards her antagonist. It soared through the air and came crashing down in the townland of Clonee where it remains today. As she threw it, she lost her balance and slid down the mountain, her huge bulk carving a track through the turf leaving two huge banks of earth along her course which can still be seen on the Black Banks. She finally came to rest in the modern day village of Myshall where the impact from her knees was left in a stone now in the graveyard.



Figure 1 The Cailín Slipes, Black Banks, Carlow

That is the folklore, now for the archaeology. The first in the new series of posts called “Feature Friday” is a spectacular site on the slopes of the Black Banks. Overlooking the village of Myshall, this feature can be seen from the North including the Corribut Gap carpark. Known locally as the Cailín Slipes, this feature has been interpreted as a cursus monument. Cursus comes from the Latin racecourse as early antiquarians believed them to be Roman race tracks. Cursus monuments consist of two long banks running parallel to one another which are sometimes joined at one end by a straight or rounded bank. They date to the Neolithic period (c.4000-2500BC) and their function is still a matter of debate. They vary in length with the most famous examples in Ireland being the one next to Newgrange (100m long & 20m wide) and one on the Hill of Tara (250m long & 20m wide) more popularly known as “The Banqueting Hall”. Cursus monuments also occur in Britain such as at Stonehenge. The biggest and most elaborate cursus is Dorset cursus in the sout of England. This has a total length of approximately 10km and it has been estimated that half a million work hours went into its construction. Much of it has been levelled today but it is still visible as cropmarks. The great Rudston monolith (7.6m) in Yorkshire England has three cursus monuments leading up to its hilltop location.


Figure 2 The Rudston Monolith, Yorkshire

Generally they are found near or leading up to other Neolithic monuments (e.g. beside the Newgrange passage tomb, leading up to the Mound of the Hostages at Tara or Stonehenge). In the case of the Dorset cursus, prehistoric monuments are built all along its course. As well as these lowland examples, cursus monuments have also been identified in the uplands such as the example on Keadeen Mountain, Wicklow (see Ivor Kenny’s blog for a more detailed discussion on that example http://ivorkenny.wordpress.com/tag/cursus/). While the Keadeen example appears to be lead up to a summit cairn, the same cannot be said for the Black Banks although a feature now either destroyed or overlain by peat may have once stood at the summit. Alternatively it could have led to the ridge from where the summit cairn on Mount Leinster could have been accessed. The only prehistoric features in the area are a possible passage tomb/ summit cairn on the summit of Slievebawn and the Nine Stones stone alignment. Climbing up along its course is difficult as the builders appeared to have chosen the steepest part of the mountain!!! Peat growth and vegetation makes it difficult to identify the banks in places while walking along it and the construction of the roadway leading to the Nine Stones carpark has cut through and obliterated all sight of it from this position. From satellite imagery we can see it continuing downslope towards Coolasnaghta however this is impossible to see on the ground.

Whatever its true purpose, function and reason for construction, the local folklore around Myshall and the area has an interesting explanation for its formation as we have seen.  A witch who lived on Mount Leinster got into an argument with another witch in Wexford/ Wicklow. In a fit of rage she picked up a stone and threw it at her enemy but in the process lost her balance and slipped down the mountain. The result was the huge track we see on the mountain today known as The Cailín Slipes or the Witches Slide. The standing stone in Clonee is said to be the stone she threw as evidenced by the grooves left from the mark of her hands. The point where she finally came to rest can be seen in Myshall graveyard as the impact from her knees left a mark in a stone there, we know it today as a medieval double bullaun stone.


Figure 3 Myshall Double Bullaun Stone/ The Witches knee marks


The Tower, Knockmulgurry

The Tower, Knockmulgurry

Another aerial photograph taken using a kite, this time over a site known as “The Tower” above Knockmulgurry and on the slopes beneath Caher Roe’s Den. The site is located on the side of a disused roadway known as the Tower Road. Above this is the Wexford Road, both of which meet at a site known as “The Meeting Point” where a Lughnasa festival was held at the end of July until recently.
The site is in a ruinous state today but consisted of a two storey rectangular structure aligned North-South with the southern gable still standing. There is a window on the top floor of this wall. There is an additional rectangular room or outhouse on the east side and a the base of a circular tower on the south-western corner. The steep slope was cut away and levelled out to make way for the construction of this structure. The site is situated in an area surrounded by field systems in various states of use. Some of these were used for the cultivation of rye.
It is marked as a roofed structure on the first edition Ordnance Survey maps (1839) but only consists of the main structure and the circular tower. It appears as a ruin on the 25″ series (1890’s) although the circular tower is still shown as being roofed and the eastern room or outhouse has been added in the meantime.

Jack Ryan’s Walls

Jack Ryan's Walls

Kite Aerial Photograph taken in November of a site known as Jack Ryan’s Walls on the eastern slopes of Knockroe Mountain. The site is east of Shannon’s New Fields. Nearby enclosures show signs of ridge and furrow indicating former cultivation, Ruin of this site marked on the first edition 25″ maps (1890’s) but not on first edition 6″ maps (1839). It consists of two structures. There is no sign of a formal fireplace in it’s current state.  The green grassy patch in the small outside enclosure indicates a higher soil fertility possibly from keeping an animal such as a pig on the site.

Deer Trap Find, Blackstairs Mountains

The Blackstairs Mountains have many secrets and these are slowly coming to light.
Blackstairs Mountains ridgeline from Dranagh Mountain
(Blackstairs Mountain is the first large peak you see protruding over the ridgeline in the centre of the image)
While out walking in June 2011, Mike Monahon, Carlow, noticed some wood fragments poaking out of a peat hag on the summit of Blackstairs Mountain, County Carlow. After removing some of the peat he noticed that some of the pieces appeared to be worked and given it’s location (on top of the second highest peak in the Blackstairs) he deemed it must be archaeological and covered it back up. He returned home and contacted the National Museum of Ireland. 
Peat Hag which contained the find

On the 25th of June 2011, Dr. Andy Halpin, Assistant Keeper of Irish Antiquities travelled to Carlow to identify the reported object. He was accompanied by Mike Monahon, Dermot Mulligan, curator of the County Carlow Museum Ann Murphy and myself. A partial removal of the covering peat confirmed the initial suspicion that the object was a deer trap. It was decided to leave the object in situ until a plan had been put in place for its removal later that summer. The find was covered back with peat to maintain it in its wet environment.

Deer Trap being exposed by Dr. Halpin

Deer Trap in the Peat
Deer Trap in the peat
Mike Monahon beside his find

 On the 27th of July, Dr. Halpin returned to extract the deer trap from the peat. He invited me along and we excavated the deer trap under excellent weather conditions. It had been planned to extract the find with a helicopter time permitting on the same day or on the following day if excavation took too long. This was to protect the object as the descent was rocky, wet and difficult and a fall could have damaged the object. When the find was extracted it was decided to leave the trap on the mountain and return the following day for extraction. The fragmented remains were bagged and covered with sods so as to protect them.

Deer Trap once we removed the top layer of peat to its exposure at the time of finding
Exposed deer trap
View of deer trap
cross piece in previous image indicated by lighter colour in wood
Tool marks
Underside view
The hag after removal

  Thursday 28th of June proved to be a very wet day and the benefit of hindsight proved that the helicopter should have been called in the previous day. The top of the mountain was completely covered in cloud and mist so it would have been far too dangerous to land any helicopter. After waiting for a number of hours to see if the cloud would lift it was decided that the find would have to be carried down. This was done in one go (with a number of breaks!) and the find was brought to Dublin for conservation.

We had to hand lift it all the way down (and given that it was waterlogged in the peat for at least a few hundred years it was very heavy)

Deer traps have been found dating from the Bronze Age through to the medieval period so there was a broad date on our trap. Another example from Carlow was found during the excavation of the M9 in Prumplestown Lower. This was dated 660-810 AD. It backed up evidence for the use of deer traps in the medieval period. A cross in Clonmacnoise depicts a deer with its leg caught in one of these traps.
Prumplestown Trap (photo: Rubicon Archaeology)

Deer traps worked by placing the trap on the ground, the deer would put its foot in the hole and spikes would prevent it from pulling it back up again. 

So excitingly I found out today that the deer trap (which is currently under conservation) was radiocarbon dated. I assumed from previous examples in the museum and elsewhere in Europe that it was probably medieval. But this one returned a date of 2102 ± 33 BP and so probably dates 203-42BC. 
So an example of some lovely and definitely Iron Age activity in the Blackstairs Mountains!!! Nice!

Check out the rubicon blog about the Prumplestown Lower deer trap for more info.

Slane Fieldschool

Over Easter week 2012 I had the opportunity to take part in an introduction to archaeological geophysics course on the Hill of Slane, Co. Meath. The Hill of Slane is located to the North of the village of Slane which is just outside the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne. We stayed in the Slane Farm Hostel for the week, a fantastic hostel with everything you need for any length of a stay (both indoor and camping) including fresh eggs in the morning. The Hill of Slane and Slane Village is well worth a visit by anyone in the Brú na Bóinne area. There are a number of upstanding archaeological features on the hill. It is reputedly the site on which St. Patrick lit the first Pascal Fire in Ireland in defiance of the High King Laoighaire who had him arrested and brought to Tara. Here St. Patrick taught him about God and Christianity and while the King himself did not convert he allowed Patrick to continue his mission in Ireland. The course was run by Kevin Barton and Dr. Conor Brady.

Slane Festival of Fire

The course had 18 participants from 11 different countries (Ireland, Bolivia, Estonia, Latvia, USA, Poland, Greece, Slovakia, Lithuania, Finland and Germany). We arrived on Saturday the 07 April from our various origins and got to see the First Slane Festival that evening, an event organised by Slane locals celebrating their locality and it’s ties to St. Patrick. There were acrobatic and fire displays and the Easter Fire was lit before the locals paraded back down the hill with the Easter Flame for the vigil mass.

Sunday the 08 April brought a trip to the Brú na Bóinne Neolithic passage tomb sites of Knowth and Newgrange. We were provided with tours of both sites from the OPW. After the Newgrange tour, Kevin gave us a brief account of the recent survey carried out on Newgrange which aimed to search for the presence of a second passage. While the survey could not be completed, the method proved successful as demonstrated by the survey carried out on the already known passage. We then went to Drogheda to stock up on food for the week and followed that with a tour of The Hill of Slane led by Dr. Conor Brady who outlined the monastic site, the monastery, the Norman motte and the various anomalies which were identified through field survey and LiDAR survey. We were also introduced to the field we would be working in the following day.

That evening following dinner, we had our introductory lecture and a lecture on magnetic susceptibility survey and surface collection survey from Conor and Kevin. This was followed by a case study on surface collection survey through a report on the survey and excavation carried out at Rossnaree in the Boyne Valley by Dr. Conor Brady.


Monday the 09 April was spent in a ploughed field on the south-west side of the Hill. For the week we were split into groups of four and each group given an area to make teaching and surveying work easier and more hands-on. Here we practiced fieldwalking, magneic susceptibility, sub-metre GPS, metal detecting and total station use. The evening brought a lecture from Kevin where he presented the results of geophysical surveys on an archaeological site in Norway. The results of each survey were compared to one another to highlight the benefits of multi-method approaches, to show how they complement one another and to demonstrate how some features are visible in some survey results but not in others. Piotr from Poland then introduced us to the software Snuffler, a free to use programme used for processing magnetic and resistance surveys. This would be the programme we would be using for our data processing later in the week and following the field school.

Magnetic Susceptibility
Metal detecting

Surface Collection
Tuesday 10th and for the rest of the week we remained in the vicinity of the monastic site on top of the hill for survey work.  In 1997 a trench was dug for an electric cable to provide floodlights on the monuments. This extended in an east-west direction from the visitors car park to the monuments. The trench was dug about 30cm wide and 1m deep. Kieran Campbell, a consultant archaeologist monitored the excavation of this trench and noted a number of possible archaeological remains mainly in the form of stone scatters and blocks. These may be the remains of centuries of activity on the hill. Because this was only a 30cm wide keyhole no interpretations could be made. Each of these features was marked by its distance from the gate at the end of the field. Before we arrived to the Field school these spots had been identified and marked with a sub-metre GPS. A grid of ten 20x20m squares was created around the line. The line went through five of these squares with another five added in order to extend the survey. Our job was to survey these grids in our groups using the various remote sensing methods that were demonstrated to us. The aim of this survey was to identify if the features identified by Kieran Campbell extended beyond the trench. For the first day our tasks were; earth resistance, magnetic susceptibility and dumpy levels.
That morning we carried out an Earth Resistance survey with points taken every 50cm along transects spaced 50cm apart. After a few readings the machine decided to give up so we carried out a magnetic susceptibility survey which threw up some strange results possibly due to the volcanic bedrock which was quite close to the surface. After lunch two of us carried out a dumpy level survey while two of us practiced low-level aerial photography using kites.
The evening brought with it a lecture from the Discovery Programme on their research in Ireland demonstrating their use of techniques such as LiDAR, Photogrammetry and laser scanning. Different case studies were demonstrated and varying results that can be achieved by using different approaches to the same technique were also demonstrated. They also showed some of the results from laser scans carried out that day on the College with other groups.
Magnetic Susceptibility and GPS survey

Wednesday the 11 April was started with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey.  GPR is used to take slices of the earth to identify cuts and ditches and other anomalies. These can then be viewed both vertically and horizontally It is operated by at least two people. We took it in turns to control the operation and to pull the antennae. GPR’s come in various sizes which either have high resolution or allow for deeper surveys at the expense of resolution. Thus it is up to the surveyor to decide which is more important. The GPR we were using was a GSSI SIR-3000 GPR which had a frequency of 400MHz. This would provide high-resolution results to a depth of about 1.5m as opposed to a 100MHz GPR which would have a lower resolution but penetrate to depths of 5-20m. Readings were taken spaced at 50cm apart in 20m transects.
In the afternoon we were with the Discovery Programme where they demonstrated three of their laser scanners. Laser scanners emit thousands of pulses every second and the distance and time of return is collected to build up a 3-D image of an object or features surface. Control points and GPS are used to fit the scans together in the processing stage. The first scanner was the Trimble laser scanner used to scan a section of the church on the Hill of Slane. This scanner is used to survey large objects such as buildings. It shoots around 5,000 points per second and has a range of about 100m. This was useful as we could see it as it happened on a toughbook. The second scanner was the Faro laser scanner which was used to scan The College next to the church. The Faro scanner is a self-contained unit so once its set up, it collects the points without the need of a Toughbook and so is a less hands on and far quicker method. It is also used to survey large objects such as buildings and emits over 900,000 points per second. Like the Trimble, it uses reference points to tie the scans together to build up a 3-D model. The final scanner was carried out on a decorated panel inside The College. This was a NextEngine object scanner and like the Trimble scanner we could see it as it happened. It scans a specific area and is then moved to scan the next area, using overlaps to fit the scans together to form a 3-D model of an object or artefact.
The evening brought a display from Kevin on our results from the day and then demonstration on the use of the program Snuffler from Piotr using the results that we had collected ourselves.

Trimble Laser Scanner

Faro Laser Scanner

Object Laser Scanner

GPR Survey
GPR Survey
On thursday 12th we managed to complete the earth resistivity survey of our grid which we hadn’t managed to do earlier in the week (see Tuesday above). After this we carried out an electrical resistivity tomography survey. This takes a 2-D slice of the earth to highlight anomalies. It uses probes spaced every 20m and uses the same meter as the earth resistance. Four cables are plugged in to the meter and attached with crocodile clips to four probes at a time. The current is measured on the reading and then the crocodile clips are moved one up. Once the line is complete the clips are brought back to the start and the spacing is increased.  We carried this out over the area of the pipeline to a depth of about 1.5m. 
In the afternoon we carried out the magnetic gradiometry survey of our area. To do this we had to be completely metal free. Luckily it was not raining so our rain gear could be kept off. We used two flux-gate gradiometers, a single and a dual gradiometer. These measure changes in the vertical magnetic field caused by buried objects or areas with a higher magnetic susceptibility (burnt areas) which are higher than the surrounding soil. At first we found a spot which had a reading of zero magnetism. This is harder to achieve with the dual gradiometer as two probes are at work at once.  Onc a control had been established, we went to our grid and scanned them at first in parallels lines and then in zig zags spaced at 50cm intervals. We also walked in two methods, one with lines as a reference to provide more accurate scans and one with flags at the end of the grid which was a little more inaccurate. This was to show how the different forms may be able to show different results which vary in accuracy. We downloaded the data into Surfer and had a look at it in the field which showed some excellent results just from the raw data. 
In the evening we had a demonstration on the use of Snuffler on data from the magnetic gradiometry survey and then a demonstration from Michal from Poland on the use of QGIS to geo-reference low-level aerial photographs and to draw polygons on the geo-referenced images. 

Earth Resistance Survey
Earth Resistivity Tomography Probes

Earth Resistivity Tomography Survey


The final day of the course brought with it a wind down for our group. Each group had been assigned either a morning or afternoon free to carry out further work on an area of their choice with the available equipment. Our free slot was assigned as Friday morning and for this our first task was to mark with a sub-metre GPS the location of all the surface collection and metal detector hits from the first day for the areas of Groups 2, 3 and our own. Groups 1’s area was to be left as they wanted to carry out further work on their area in their free slot that afternoon as they had identified a burnt area and a number of pieces of flint. We took an early lunch so as to finish up early that day. Philip Bromwell from RTE news also visited us that morning and carried out a few interviews and took a few shots of the work being carried out for the 6 o’clock news (here).
In the afternoon we got to try out the Low level aerial photography using kites. The platform and the camera had been damaged in a fall earlier in the week so we didn’t get to see this aspect however we got to try out controlling the kite in low winds which was difficult enough in itself. We were also taken through how to construct our own-homemade camera platform by Michal and Asia.

In the evening we had an early computer session as we had finished up early. Michal brought us through using the programme Agisoft to build up 3-D representations of images. We were also given a free version of this and demonstrated how to use the full version.

This was an excellent course with the perfect balance between teaching and learning by doing. If it is run again it is definitely worth the investment for any archaeologist to go away for this week. It teaches so much and really opens your eyes to what is available to the profession. 
10/10 a great week!