Issue: Survey at Earl's Bu, Orphir, Orkney 1989-91:

Subtitle geophysical work on a Late Norse Estate Complex
Publication Type
Abstract The various campaigns of geophysical survey at The Earl's Bu and its environs have added to the body of information known about the site (the early 12th-century seat of Earl Haakon Paulsson, with a round church, a large hall, a Late Norse midden and an earlier horizontal mill), confirming both considerable disturbance and potential structural traces. A separate print publication (Batey 2003), to which this particular SAIR is an adjunct, reviews the interventions made at the site up to the late 1930s.<br /><br />In some cases, the surveys have raised more questions than they have answered, particularly about some putative burnt mounds (or stone-dense midden spreads or similar anomalies). The geophysical survey has also indicated a number of features which may represent early excavation trenches. While it is often impossible to be definitive in the interpretation of geophysical anomalies, especially in Scottish contexts where geological conditions can be unhelpful in the application of archaeological geophysical survey, interpretation must be an informed process. In the case of the environs of the Earl's Bu, if it were not for the excavations that were being run concurrently with the surveys, and the excellent and rapidly-published research of others working in the Northern Isles, that interpretative process would have been far more difficult. The report concludes that more excavation of geophysical anomalies is required; the next logical stage is to excavate prior to the laying-out of the site for comprehension by the visiting public.
Downloads
sair4.pdf (452 kB): Download
Author Coleen E Batey
Paul Johnson
Editor Colin R W Wallace
Publisher Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Year of Publication 2003
Volume 4
ISBN 0-903903-73-3
Subjects / Periods
BIAB: Geophysical Survey
Note Is Portmanteau: 1
Source DigitalBorn
Relations
Monograph Chapter Title Sort Order Both Arrows Access Type Author / Editor Page
Start/End Sort Order Up Arrow
Abstract
1
The various campaigns of geophysical survey at The Earl's Bu and its environs have added to the body of information known about the site (the early 12th-century seat of Earl Haakon Paulsson, with a round church, a large hall, a Late Norse midden and an earlier horizontal mill), confirming both considerable disturbance and potential structural traces. A separate print publication (Batey 2003), to which this particular SAIR is an adjunct, reviews the interventions made at the site up to the late 1930s. In some cases, the surveys have raised more questions than they have answered, particularly about some putative burnt mounds (or stone-dense midden spreads or similar anomalies). The geophysical survey has also indicated a number of features which may represent early excavation trenches. While it is often impossible to be definitive in the interpretation of geophysical anomalies, especially in Scottish contexts where geological conditions can be unhelpful in the application of archaeological geophysical survey, interpretation must be an informed process. In the case of the environs of the Earl's Bu, if it were not for the excavations that were being run concurrently with the surveys, and the excellent and rapidly-published research of others working in the Northern Isles, that interpretative process would have been far more difficult. The report concludes that more excavation of geophysical anomalies is required; the next logical stage is to excavate prior to the laying-out of the site for comprehension by the visiting public
2 - 4
This section presents an account of the various stages of this work beginning with small-scale excavation in 1978 and a brief summary of investigations prior to 1978. Details of survey design, methodology, data processing and presentation are also included.
9 - 15
The areas of survey were as follows: the cemetery and church area, the Bu Lawn, the West Field and the East Field. Survey failed to find any trace of the Round Church but did identify the remains of the 19th-century church. Features identified in the Bu Lawn were problematic and the related data issues are discussed. Features linked to possible cultivation and a burnt mound were identified in the West Field. The East Field contained features possibly linked to cultivation, boundary features, a possible building and a possible dump of ferrous material.
12
The various surveys have provided indicative information, confirming considerable disturbance and potential structural traces. A number of features identified may represent early excavation trenches.
13
14
The various campaigns of geophysical survey at The Earl's Bu and its environs have added to the body of information known about the site (the early twelfth-century seat of Earl Haakon Paulsson, with a round church, a large hall, a Late Norse midden and an earlier horizontal mill), confirming both considerable disturbance and potential structural traces. A separate print publication (Batey 2003), to which this particular SAIR is an adjunct, reviews the interventions made at the site up to the late 1930s. In some cases, the surveys have raised more questions than they have answered, particularly about some putative burnt mounds (or stone-dense midden spreads or similar anomalies). The geophysical survey has also indicated a number of features which may represent early excavation trenches. While it is often impossible to be definitive in the interpretation of geophysical anomalies, especially in Scottish contexts where geological conditions can be unhelpful in the application of archaeological geophysical survey, interpretation must be an informed process. In the case of the environs of the Earl's Bu, if it were not for the excavations that were being run concurrently with the surveys, and the excellent and rapidly-published research of others working in the Northern Isles, that interpretative process would have been far more difficult. The report concludes that more excavation of geophysical anomalies is required; the next logical stage is to excavate prior to the laying-out of the site for comprehension by the visiting public.