Monday 18 August 2014

Under the Stonehenge Landscape

Unveiling the prehistoric landscape at Stonehenge through multi-receiver EMI 
Philippe De Smedt, Marc Van Meirvenne, Timothy Saey, Eamonn Baldwin, Chris Gaffney, Vince Gaffney

Archaeological research at Stonehenge (UK) is increasingly aimed at understanding the dynamic of the wider archaeological landscape. Through the application of state-of-the-art geophysical techniques,unprecedented insight is being gathered into the buried archaeological features of the area. However,applied survey techniques have rarely targeted natural soil variation, and the detailed knowledge of the palaeotopography is consequently less complete. In addition, metallic topsoil debris, scattered over different parts of the Stonehenge landscape, often impacts the interpretation of geophysical datasets. The research presented here demonstrates how a single multi-receiver electromagnetic induction (EMI)survey, conducted over a 22 ha area within the Stonehenge landscape, offers detailed insight into natural and anthropogenic soil variation at Stonehenge. The soil variations that were detected through recording the electrical and magnetic soil variability, shed light on the genesis of the landscape, and allow for a better definition of potential palaeoenvironmental and archaeological sampling locations. Based on the multi-layered dataset, a procedure was developed to remove the influence of topsoil metal from the survey data, which enabled a more straightforward identification of the detected archaeology. The results provide a robust basis for further geoarchaeological research, while potential to differentiate between modern soil disturbances and the underlying sub-surface variations can help in solving conservation and management issues. Through expanding this approach over the wider area, we aim at a fuller under-standing of the human-landscape interactions that have shaped the Stonehenge landscape.
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Some nice results, showing up a couple of hengiforms for instance.


  1. What has happened to the two large pits at the Cursus found by the Hidden Lanscapes project (also involving the Gaffneys ) and their alignment to the solstice sunrise and sunset and procession nonsense ?

  2. Based on the multi-layered dataset, a procedure was developed to remove the influence of topsoil metal from the survey data

    Interesting. The multi field versions (for engineering), work by pulsing to induce current in conductive material, and can pinpoint metal data and size quite easily. I still have one of the old single field type in the kit locker that was made about 40 years ago: Still useful for some tasks but not as good as the multi phase one. I suppose that the same multi-phase technology, more or less, was used to remove the data so that the background noise can be concentrated on.

    It all sounds very impressive the way they describe it. But it's not always quite as reliable as you would think.

  3. Whilst avoiding mention of the pits and procession in the above paper ,they are still alive, see .There is a diagram which highlights the problems ,in effect the Heel Stone to the pit at the northern extreme of the cursus is given as 0.68 miles .The azimuth of a line 0.68 miles from the Heel stone to the northern extreme of the cursus is 316.2 degrees . The azimuth for the solstice sunset from the Heel stone is 310 degrees a difference of 6 degrees or 168 metres . The procession seems to longer be the incredibly slow one and not from a central point between the pits heading south , just as well that was also demonstrably wrong never mind being hugely speculative.