I am sad to say that my placement as the National Trusts Community Archaeologist in South Wales has come to an end. I have had a fantastic year and have undertaken a range of activities from leading guided walks, recording earthworks, investigating WWII defences and conducting geophysical surveys, all in some amazing locations.
During the final weeks of my placement I was lucky enough to borrow a resistivity kit from the National Trust in the South East and get back to my roots with some geophysical surveying.
First up was an undisclosed site in Monmouthshire. The site was believed to be that of an old Deserted medieval Village. Looking around the field there appears to be an extensive and complex network of earthworks including banks, ditches, platforms and hollows. This certainly supports the hypothesis that the remains of a village may exist just beneath the surface. Lying in the centre of the field is a tumbled pile of stone atop of a small hillock, closer inspection of the stones reveals badly eroded ornate markings, some people believe these to be the sad remains of a 12th Century Chapel.
Working with a small team of volunteers we set about conducting a geophysical survey in a small section of the field hoping to find some small evidence that might suggest elements of the deserted medieval village survive beneath the surface. A resistivity survey can be quite time consuming and laborious, especially as we were using 0.5m intervals to collect data to achieve the best possible resolution but it was worth it as the results were astonishing.
In the north of the data plot the outline of a four sided oblong anomaly. It is aligned east to west and situated just slightly offset from the small hillock of tumbled stone. Is this the footprint of the 12th Century medieval church? There appears to be some other anomalies surrounding this that may also be archaeological in nature, but the possible church has shown up magnificently against the natural background geology of the site.
After surveying the medieval village we switched to something a bit older and had a go at surveying a prehistoric site in the Brecon Beacons. This is the site of the recently discovered Bronze Age rock art possibly dating back to the early Bronze Age. Here our aim was to find any evidence of human activity within the immediate vicinity of the rock art. Unfortunately the soil conditions here were not favourable for a resistivity survey, although the weather was nice and sunny the ground was saturated throughout the survey from recent rainfall which is likely to have masked any subtle archaeological features, but the volunteers still had a great time trying something new.
Many, many, many Thanks to Claudine Gerrard, the National Trusts archaeologist for South Wales, for giving me the opportunity to work with the Trust in South Wales. I have loved every minute of it. Even though I do not work for the National Trust anymore I am looking forward to continuing working in South Wales as an archaeologist and will hopefully get to work with the National Trust on projects in the future which I will blog about.