Colour photograph of buggy pulling a "sledge" across a field with germinating crop under a threatening sky heavy with clouds
Caesium magnetometer towed array in use at Charlton © Historic England
Caesium magnetometer towed array in use at Charlton © Historic England

Geophysical Survey Advice

Geophysical survey is a valuable tool for discovering buried remains and for better understanding archaeological monuments and historic buildings. A number of techniques can be used, each measuring different physical properties of the ground, and it is important to choose the right combination of methods for the site being investigated.

Advice on geophysical survey

The Geophysics Team offers advice on all aspects of geophysical survey underpinned by many years of field experience using both routine techniques and helping develop the application of new cutting-edge instruments.

Much of our advice is summarised in the EAC Guidelines for the Use of Geophysics in Archaeology which are available as a free PDF download.

 

Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation (2008)

This guidance publication has been archived because it is no longer our current advice. We are considering the need for new guidance specific to England in light of the recent publication of Europe-wide EAC guidance but we have no firm plan to produce updated guidance at this time (June 2018). The EAC guidance incorporates much of the advice from our 2008 document. 

Copies of the guidance are available on request to [email protected]. For other enquiries about this document please contact Paul Linford (see contact details below).

Marine Geophysics Data Acquisition, Processing and Interpretation (2013)

We are planning to issue an updated version of this guidance document in early 2019. For any enquiries about the revision project please contact [email protected]nd.org.uk.

Archaeomagnetic Dating Guidelines (2006)

This guidance publication has been archived because it is no longer our current advice. We aren’t planning to produce a new version of this guidance at the moment.

Advice and guidance on archaeomagnetic dating has been collated by the Magnetic Moments in the Past project (2013). A summary of the project is available from the Archaeology Data Service website.

Copies of the 2006 guidance document are available on request to [email protected]. For other enquiries about this document please contact Paul Linford (see contact details below).

Section 42 Licences for surveys of scheduled monuments

A Section 42 licence is required to carry out a geophysical survey over a scheduled monument or other protected place. Licences are issued by the relevant local office. However, the Geophysics Team can advise on survey considerations.

As a condition of the licence, a paper copy of a report on the survey should be sent to the Inspector who issued the licence along with a completed copy of the Geophysical Survey Summary Questionnaire. A digital copy should be sent to the Inspector and to the Geophysics Team Manager (see contact details below). 

A copy should also be lodged with the relevant local Historic Environment Record (HER) in their preferred format. HER contact details can be found at Heritage Gateway.

It is also requested that surveyors make a record signposting their investigation with the Archaeology Data Service using their online OASIS Data Collection form.

Please contact: [email protected]  for information and training.

Both the report and ADS entry should be submitted no later than three months after completion of the survey.

Resources

The English Heritage Geophysical Survey Database was merged into the Archaeology Data Service OASIS Index of Archaeological Investigations in 2011 and this, more comprehensive, resource is available on the ADS website.

Our own geophysical survey reports are accessible online via Research Reports.

Paul Linford

Geophysics Manager
  • Department

    Remote Sensing, Research Group
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