Excavation blog by Fiona Child

Marking the halfway point of the project, we have officially swapped over our teams and have carried on the excavation efforts made by the first group. Working in small sections, each member of our team troweled away at the various trenches, exposing features of the possible fortification wall. A millennial bonfire at the site had resulted in an orange coloured stain within the soil and on certain stone surfaces in part of the trench. The lovely weather brought many visitors to the site, where I provided information on the project as well as took down survey questions for H.E.S. The public are keenly interested in our efforts and were utilising the QR codes posted along the fence line in order to learn more on their own time. Overall, it was a successful first day of excavating for our team and we look forward to continuing and hopefully making some exciting discoveries.

Survey blog by Ferenc Robert Molnar

Today meant the first day of survey experience for the group, which started the excavation of the hillfort on Arthur’s seat. The team was split in two at the beginning of the day. One contingent went to the Samsons Ribs hillfort to carry out visual survey on the remains and to deepen their knowledge in the usage of total stations, while the second one headed to that part of Holyrood Park lying behind the Holyrood-house palace to get a taster about how geophysical surveys are conducted. 

This taster started with our attempts to assemble the push-cart magnetometer, which took 20 minutes. Then we had to find 3 points of the field with the aid of the GPS on the cart. After accomplishing this we placed one cane on each point and another 2.5 meters away from these points forming 3 gates, where the magnetometer could be pushed through. All members of the team got an opportunity to push the cart in a v shape between the two most distant gates, which were more than 100 meters away from each other. 


Not long before lunchtime we were assigned to make the necessary preparation for the beginning of the resistivity scanning, which involved the marking of multiple 30×30 m areas by using very long tapes, a small amount of basic mathematical knowledge and placing canes into the ground. Due to marking the first line incorrectly and not noticing this for a while this stage took us longer than we had anticipated. After lunch, the rest of the group also joined us and helped operate the parallel lines of ropes which were 1m away from each other and served us a guide to put the probes of the resistivity meter into the correct positions. Just like with the previous one everyone had a go with this device, which meant that the two probes on the gadget had to be pushed to the ground 60 times in every 30mx1m section. 

At the end of the day we took our rope system down and used the collected data to construct a map about our results.

Survey blog by John Strachan

Today the two groups (excavation and survey) switched over and we began our surveying experience. We were split into two groups, one which would carry out geo-physical surveying at the Parade Ground near Holyrood Palace, and the other to survey the ancient wall of Samson’s Ribs hillfort. At the fort we utilised both old and new techniques to create an accurate survey of the monument, which compared to the site on Arthurs Seat which we had been excavating the week before was very well preserved. This may be since the site is not visited as frequently by tourists, as a main path runs next to it making it slightly out of the way for most visitors. Using level boards, sights and rulers, we drew marked down points of interest along the fortification wall measured from a set point to create an accurate site plan at a scale of 1:50. We also learned how to utilise a Total Station, which is essentially a computer that marks points in the landscape by sending out an infrared ray to a refractor that was placed upon a metre stick. The Total Station would follow a radio signal given out by a remote control attached to this pole, making it rather eerie to work with as it seemed to be eyeing our every move! By using both traditional and modern techniques, we could understand the speed and accuracy of machine assisted survey while appreciating the basic principles underpinning this by using the level boards. We managed to get most of the wall surveyed, and we will collate the data later on an Ordnance Survey map.