An insight into the world of survey….

Beautiful scenery at Coralie Bay

Just one year ago, I was a third-year field school student excited to go on my first archaeological dig. Little did I know, I would be returning to the island the following year as part of a research project.  The familiar scenery of rolling hills, sheep scattered across the landscape and the beautiful Coralie Bay in the distance from the Lockwood lodge brought back fond memories. Having prior experience meant I was better prepared with gear and comfort food for the whole three weeks. Next time I will definitely bring waterproof pants as I learnt the hard way with a drenched pair of pants hanging on the line.

Survey crew

I was fortunate to be part of the survey crew with Josh and Matt who are two experts in the field of GIS and have taught me how to operate the new Trimble total station. The new model is quite different to what we previously have been using. I felt I was at an advantage since having little experience with the Leica total station I could adapt quickly to the new machine.

Every day I was given the task of setting up the total station. I would then help teach and supervise two field school students how to use it.  A nostalgic feeling consumed me as I reminisced about my first encounter with the total station and the excitement and nervousness that came with using it. Some mornings we had a wave of artefacts surfacing and there would be a huge back log to record, while on other days would be calm. I surprised myself with how much I had learned in just the few days we had before the students arrived.

Mastering the new total station

I have learnt the art of prioritizing what needed to be recorded immediately to cope with the influx of artefacts on busy days as the survey team control the speed of the excavation. The students were fast learners and understood the pressure that the job entails.  I like to think I have a deeper understanding of its importance and if done correctly the high value of information that can be obtained.

I have been extremely lucky to return to the island again and experience the whole project from a different perspective. I have hardly noticed the time fly by and I will feel sad to leave the island on Monday. It will definitely take some time getting used to life back on the mainland!

~ Patricia


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