Reflections on Three Weeks of Research

After three weeks of my research project, I consider the work done so far and some of the challenges and highlights

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It’s been three weeks since I started my research, making today the midway point. Today also marks the release of my introductory video to my project for the Festival of Archaeology (https://festival.archaeologyuk.org/events/landscape-view-and-archaeology-mid-cheshire-ridge-1626349588). Public outreach is a key element of archaeology, as our outputs should be available so far as possible to the community at large, so it was important to me to provide an accessible, non-technical overview.

I’ve been using multiple methods over the course of my first three weeks. My last nine days have been filled with fieldwork, the main stage of which is almost at completion. I’ve travelled through the 127 square miles (330km2) of my survey area to record and ground truth at my survey points. These points have been found from GIS analysis, library research (called a Desk Based), studying old maps (Map Regression) and discussions with stakeholders. My next stage, which I have already run trials for, is to compete the GIS analysis in QGIS.

There have been a number of challenges that I have had to adapt to and overcome. One has been the timetabling, as the Desk Based Assessment has demanded more time than scheduled due to the spread of the material to date. However, I ensured my timetable was adaptable for such an eventuality, and with effective time management this Assessment should be brought to a successful completion within a satisfactory timeframe. Another has been reaching the limits of my own skills and knowledge in preparing elements of both the statistical and GIS analyses. I treated these as learning opportunities rather than obstacles, and by asking for help and working from the advice, I’ve found suitable solutions. A third issue is resource-based, as equipment I initially planned to use as part of my field survey proved unsuitable. Having not found an answer in established survey methods, this is offering me the opportunity for individual innovation and to trial a new method, which is still in development but is looking like an exciting possibility.

There have also been a number of highlights. One has been meeting with various stakeholders and hearing about their interests and plans within the landscape. Closely allied is also the opportunity to discuss the area and archaeology with interested member of the public I’ve encountered during my fieldwork. And finally, the opportunity to innovate and begin to make novel findings is already proving very interesting. Hopefully, the work can continue with more solutions and successes to come.

Andrew Hill

Student, University of York

I am studying BSc Archaeology at the University of York. My primary interests are working on a ‘large scale’: archaeological field survey, GIS and digital methods, and utilising landscape and multiperiod approaches. Accordingly,  my research combines field investigation and digital analysis in a multiperiod study of the Mid-Cheshire Ridge, testing the potential contribution of comparative viewshed analysis to understanding past reasoning and change in the landscape.