Caesium Magnetometry

Thursday was an important day for the Eaton Camp Project.  ArcheoPhysica helped us complete our geophysics work on the National Trust portion of the hill fort, and it seems we have results!  We now have some clear indications of where we may want to excavate.  We await ArcheoPhysica’s final report along with Chris Atkinson’s report on Phase I of the project. Once we have this information we will hold a general meeting to show everyone what we’ve accomplished so far.

Martin and Ann Rosevere of ArcheoPhysica arrived on site with a van packed with an all-terrain quad-bike and the pieces of their sledge and recording equipment.  They designed and built the sledge themselves.  Putting it together was very much like assembling flat pack furniture.  The business end of the sledge held 4 cylinders containing caesium vapour, a large battery, and cables enabling the readings from the sledge to be transmitted to a lap top computer housed on the dashboard of the ATV.  As the sledge traversed the ground, a light beam in each cylinder recorded how the caesium gas was effected by the magnetic field of the soil in the ground. This information was transmitted as numeric data to the computer.  Ann, the driver, was able to see both the readings and a map of her path over the ground.  The map allowed her to make sure she didn’t miss anything – except the low branches of trees!  We all agreed that Ann would make a great Formula One Driver with her ability to whip the sledge around corners at a good pace, avoiding fencing, trees, badger holes, and feeding troughs for the farm animals who graze the hill fort.  It didn’t take long at the end of the day to see some initial results.

It’s very exciting to know that there are some promising places to excavate.  Many hill forts have little of interest archaeologically within them. For a long time local residents and others thought this was true of Eaton Camp. Based on our initial work, it seems possible that we may be lucky enough to uncover artefacts and features that reveal important information.  We look forward to having you join in with us in the next phase of our project.

Nancy Saldana
Eaton Camp Historical Society

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