Geophysics – What’s On The Hill

Well, what a special week it’s been! Our feet are aching, but we’ve had a great couple of days, successfully illustrating archaeology and geophysics to our local schools.

Update on the survey

Dr Susan Ovenden and Alastair Wilson from Rose Geophysical Consultants, have been hard at work since first thing on Monday morning. The weather has been mixed, but they’ve achieved a lot, while we’ve done our best to feed them hot coffee and soup!

Magnometry, Resistivity and GPR (ground penetrating radar) work is producing interesting readings. These will be now be taken away to produce detailed, computerised maps, which will be interpreted by archaeologists in Edinburgh, revealing more about the puzzle of our hill.

School Visits

On Thursday, we moved up a gear, welcoming enthusiastic young archaeologists from Dundonald and Symington Primary Schools, who were treated to Susan and Alastair’s expert insight into the science of geophysics.

An artefact workshop was stocked with a mixture of original and replica artefacts – the kind of things found on a real dig – and the children were able to wonder at how their ancestors lived. Smashed up replica pottery let them handle different kinds of broken utensils, which they pieced together, gathering information and drawing pictures to figure out their use.

We set mapwork to explain how maps and different types of desk-based research are used to help interpret the history of a site. Maps of Ayrshire were displayed from three different centuries, and we talked about their different features and what they tell us about our changing environment.

Outside, there were field-walking sessions, where our young visitors ‘bagged and flagged’ finds and took measurements, just like real archaeologists would do. A bit of learning about producing GPS co-ordinates was introduced, and they really got stuck in, using our ‘dumpy level’ and ‘levels staff’!

The gallant Sir Colin Park provided his usual knowledge and good humour, filling in gaps about what the children knew about their local history. His stories about the castle and our giant cave spiders proved a huge hit, as always.

Overwhelming support

On Thursday, we were lucky enough to have a surprise visit from leading archaeologist Adrian Cox, of Historic Environment Scotland, who added hugely relevant insight into our village’s 3000 year old past and explained why it’s a place of such national importance. He left with a big smile, full of excitement about what we’re achieving in Dundonald thanks to our wonderful community. He’ll be back on Sunday, to give more talks, and we’re so grateful for his continuing support.

Come and see!

We look forward to welcoming more of you over the course of this weekend. The opportunity will be there to take part in all our educational activities, or just to chat with our experts and enjoy some hospitality.

Come and get involved – it’s free, it’s fascinating, it’s a unique opportunity and it’s about all of us! Sessions will run on Saturday from 11am-4pm and on Sunday at 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm.

The Visitor Centre will be open, as usual, with hot tea and coffee, great soup, and a delicious selection of sandwiches and cakes to eat in, or take-away.