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Dec-2014




BUILDING THE RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS #


Adequate foundations need to be laid in order that the recommended research strategies can be implemented. The following recommendations have emerged from discussions with stakeholders and are regarded as essential prerequisites for the successful application of the research strategies discussed on the following pages.


Enhancing data quality

  • Planning briefs in advance of development: ensure that curatorial recommendations for the recording of archaeological sites, historic buildings, etc. are consistent across the region.
  • Standards and guidelines: ensure recommendations of appropriate subject and period groups are taken account of and adhered to.
  • Dating: audit of radiocarbon dates to be pursued for all periods[1]; Bayesian statistical modelling to be encouraged, together with training in the application of Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates and other scientific dating techniques[2].
  • Artefacts: further work to be conducted on the classification and dating of finds for all periods (particularly radiocarbon dating of carbonised accretions on pottery); encourage the development of ceramic type series and their dissemination as online resources; facilitate synthetic studies by promoting the inclusion of finds drawings or photographs as standard components of archive as well as published reports; promote the use of scientific techniques to investigate changes in technology, production, use, etc. (including lipid analysis of ceramics and compositional analysis of pottery, metals, glass, organic artefacts and other materials)[3].
  • Building materials analysis: encourage the use of scientific techniques of materials analysis (e.g. mortar and stone or architectural paint analyses) and explore further the potential of optically stimulated luminescence and other scientific dating techniques for the dating of bricks and mortar[4].
  • Monuments: further refinements of monument classifications to be developed.
  • Blank areas: resources to be focused upon investigating areas with little or no archaeological data.
  • HLC and LCA: Historic Landscape Characterisation and Landscape Character Assessments to be regionally compatible, current and readily accessible.
  • Built environment: provide assessments of built environment resources that are currently poorly understood, and ensure full integration in historic environment research of the archaeological and built environment resource
  • Building survey: encourage the development of laser technology and modern photogrammetry for the high-definition surveying of historic buildings and develop 3D visualisation techniques for dissemination.
  • Site location and survey: maximise the value of the air photographic record by continued air photo mapping[5] and investigate further the effectiveness of remote sensing techniques; encourage the use in site prospection of innovative terrestrial and offshore geophysics, airborne lidar, multispectral and hyperspectral imaging and ground-based scanning techniques[6].

Thin section of Bronze Age sherd from Eye Kettleby, Leicestershire, showing rock inclusion derived from the Mountsorrel granodiorite outcrop of Charnwood Forest (reproduced by permission of John Carney)
Image 4.3 Thin section of Bronze Age sherd from Eye, Leicestershire

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire is one of several buildings of known date that have been employed in studies designed to develop luminescence dating techniques[4] (photograph: D. Knight)
Image 4.5 Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire

Market Deeping, Lincolnshire: lidar image showing the location of formerly peat-covered barrows (1-7) in relation to former watercourses running off the Fen edge (top; lidar data courtesy of Environment Agency; processed imagery by Archaeological Project Services)
Image 4.7 Lidar image of showing location of formerly peat-covered barrows, Market deeping, Lincolnshire

Making better use of the archive

One of many key East Midlands reports archived by the ADS (web image from the `Nene Valley: Archaeological and Environmental Synthesis` archive page: © Northamptonshire Archaeology; http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/nenevalley_eh_2009)
Image 4.8 One of many key East Midlands reports archived by the ADS
1632 tapestry map of part of south Nottinghamshire, revealing a landscape now transformed by the modern expansion of Nottingham (© Nottingham City Museums & Galleries)
Image 4.9 Tapestry map of part of south Nottinghamshire, 1692

Enhancing published and on-line services


Improving communications

Excavation of the rock-cut ditch flanking the rampart of Fin Cop Iron Age hillfort, Derbyshire (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and conducted by Archaeological Research Services in partnership with Longstone Local History Group; © Archaeological Research Services Ltd)
Image 4.10 Excavation of a rock-cut ditch flanking the rampart of Fin cop Iron Age hillfort, Derbyshire


Enhancing the environmental resource

  • Ensure full integration of environmental research with other site work (including analyses of soils and deposits, plant remains, animal bones and invertebrates)[8].
  • Maintain a regional environmental database. It was noted in the 2012 publication that regional research would benefit significantly from the provision of an up-to-date and comprehensive database listing published and unpublished reports and archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological datasets for the East Midlands. This, it was suggested, could build upon existing databases, including the list of sites prepared as part of the East Midlands Resource Assessment and Research Agenda[9], current Historic England guidelines for the collection and analysis of palaeoenvironmental data and regional reviews of wood, microscopic wood charcoal and other environmental data[10]. Historic England has since provided funds, during preparation of this interactive digital resource, for the creation of such a resource. This environmental database can be accessed here, and we welcome input from stakeholders on projects that have yielded new environmental data.
  • Encourage regional syntheses of environmental data[11].
  • Ensure better access to national and regional environmental reference collections and digital resources.
  • Enhance Historic Environment Records by ensuring the incorporation of information on environmental data. Guidelines would need to be agreed on the level of documentation, but as a minimum we recommend inclusion of information on the range of samples collected, specialist analyses and information on the location of the reports, datasets and material that has been retained.
  • Ensure consistent implementation of systematic on-site sampling of feature fills, soils, sediments and organic deposits[12] and of off-site locations such as palaeochannels, upland peat bogs, lowland lakes and meres. This should improve understanding of the palaeoeconomy and the local and regional landscape.
  • Ensure that sufficiently large samples are taken for effective analyses of environmental samples, and in particular for the statistical analysis of animal bone assemblages[13].
  • Recognising that generic sampling strategies can fail to address specific research issues and can be too broad to interrogate satisfactorily the information from specific sites, develop period-specific regional, local and site-based strategies that may be modified further in the light of individual site circumstances.
  • Further characterise the environmental signature of key periods of change, including the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, the Late Iron Age to early Roman era and the early post-Roman period.
  • Obtain data that may elucidate historic environment change and permit monitoring of on-going climate change.
  • Encourage studies of the environmental impact of Modern and earlier industrial activity.
  • Assess from lidar and other sources the regional palaeochannel resource, and develop and maintain a palaeochannel database to inform future research and management. This could usefully build upon the palaeochannel database prepared on behalf of Trent Valley GeoArchaeology[14].
  • Encourage mapping of Pleistocene and Holocene landscapes, including the submerged landscapes of Doggerland.
  • Further research past climatic variability (e.g. from studies of dated palaeochannel fills) as a background to studies evaluating the potential impact of future climate change upon the historic environment resource.
  • Ensure systematic recovery of freshwater and marine fish bones for all periods to redress their currently poor representation in the archaeological record.
  • Encourage stable isotope analyses of human bones to study variations in diet and population movements and of plants and animals to investigate issues such as manuring practices and seasonal movements of animals[15].
  • Encourage further DNA analyses of human remains to elucidate the genetic relationships between individuals (e.g. in cremation cemeteries)[16].

Analyses of plant, insect and faunal remains from this Late Bronze Age brushwood layer and from underlying sediments have shed important light upon site formation processes and the changing prehistoric landscape (Allen, C 2007 `Exchange and Ritual at the Riverside: Late Bronze Age Life in the Lower Witham Valley at Washingborough, Lincolnshire`, Plate 3.1. Lincoln: Pre-Construct Archaeology; reproduced by permission of Colin Palmer-Brown)
Image 4.11 Late Bronze Age brushwood layer
Late prehistoric palaeochannel uncovered during excavations at Girton Quarry, Nottinghamshire (© Trent & Peak Archaeology)
Image 4.16 Late prehistoric palaeochannel, Girton Quarry, Nottinghamshire
Lidar image showing roddons of former salt-marsh creeks in East Fen, north of Boston, Lincolnshire. White shades show low-lying land of the former peat fen, now below sea level. The roddons, which represent the high, silty levees of ancient watercourses, now stand higher. Two patterns of drainage are evident, with an early dendritic pattern overlain by a pattern of southward-flowing streams (lidar data courtesy of Environment Agency; processed imagery by Archaeological Project Services)
Image 4.13 Lidar image showing roddons of former salt-marsh creeks, East Fen, north of Boston, Lincolnshire
Mesolithic human female femur stratified in palaeochannel deposits near Staythorpe, Nottinghamshire. Stable isotope analysis indicates a reliance upon animal protein and a wholly terrestrial range for the last ten years of life (© University of Sheffield)
Image 4.15 Mesolithic human female femur


References
Palaeochannels often yield rich assemblages of waterlogged organic remains. This channel near Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, yielded rich deposits of wood, animal bone, mollusc shells and plant and insect remains in association with Iron Age pottery, briquetage and other artefacts (Lane and Trimble 2010, pl. 22; reproduced by permission of T. Lane)
Image 4.17 Palaeochannel near Market Deeping, Lincolnshire

  This page (revision-93) was last changed on 15-Jun-2017 20:38 by David Knight