Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A Harness of Gradiometers

A gradiometer is an instrument that senses, or rather records tiny changes in the earth's magnetic field. As such they are able to "see" ditches, pits, walls, hearths, and furness'. Well sometimes - they are a quick efficient means of archaeologically surveying an area (and that means cheap! always a bonus!) however " an absence of results does not mean an absence of archaeology". Sometimes the archaeology just isn't magnetically different enough, or can be 'masked' by modern detritus/development. Iron overloads the instrument and you wouldn't believe how much iron based rubbish is scattered around, even in rural situations. Until recently Sue and I were using a bartington, see below surveying on Iona. They require a harness over your shoulders to hang the instrument in front of you.

The one we preferred was the original, a hard alloy frame looking like roman armour over your shoulders -otherwise referred to as the "Xena" harness (detail below).

Their are several others, popular amongst our colleagues is a home made soft harness. It's like a sideways figure 8 that clips to the instrument and is called the "Soft" Harness. Although it acts more like a cross your heart wonder bra, but that name would be politically incorrect, too long and probably not popular with female staff (which is why you're not getting a close up photo of that one!)
There is now a new one supplied by Bartington that is like a day sack. The instrument attaches at the front and a water pouch on the back acts as a counter balance, but at something like £600 just for the harness I doubt many are up grading!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Kitchener Monument

As part of our business idea I've been looking round Orkney for archaeology, sites of natural beauty, or wildlife that will be recognisable and of intrest to locals or tourists. On the far west coast of the Orcadian mainland is the Kitchener Monument on Marwick Head overlooking the Atlantic. It commerates the loss of Lord Kitchener in the First World War, whilst on route to Russia to help stiffen there resolve and improve their performance in the war. It is assumed that his ship struck a mine shortly after leaving Scapa Flow, where the Home Fleet was based. The monument was erected in 1926 by the people of the Orkney Islands.

It was an interesting problem - how do you make a plain stone tower on a barren hill top look interesting? Well Lord Kitchener was the model for the famous poster from the First World War so I combined the two. 0.3 and 0.7 staedtler pen in large moleskine sketch book (approx 15" x 6")

Friday, 2 July 2010

Stones and Ink

This is one of the houses at Skara Brae, a Neolithic village and part of Orkney's World Heritage Site (this was done on A4 with Staedler o.3 and 0.7). It is meant to be part of a series of designs for some t-shirts; part of a business idea Sue and I have whilst the wolf is banging and scraping at the door! Unfortunately the tourist season is nearly half over and the "pressure" of producing enough designs at short notice isn't helping any either! So what do you think - it would have a small company logo/motif at the bottom right hand corner along with the name "Skara Brae, Orkney" ??? white on black, red on green, red on blue, etc.

The Village was first uncovered in the late 1800's when storms exposed it under the sand dunes that had covered it for a very very long time. Its was excavated between 1925 and 1930 and is now known to date from , at its earliest, 3,200 BC. All the houses have the same 'template' with 'side board' facing the low entrance, fire place in the centre, bed stalls to left and right. Archaeological investigation also showed that 'industrial' activity was always confined to the same set areas. The passage ways through the village also appear to heavily proscribed as to use and route. All in all a very structured life with lots of taboo or organisation. A plan is below..

Below is also another design, for the interior of Maes Howe, a Neolithic Chambered Cairn (or Tomb) from about 2,700 BC. Also part of the World Heritage Site.

So living dangerously -"Wada ya think???"