Field walking can be defined as a technique for examining or studying sites of archaeology by walking in a systematic way across a ploughed field collecting artifacts on the surface. (Fasham, 1980) It is in most cases practiced with an aim of locating or mapping the distribution and the extent of the sites of archaeology. It is believed that the top soil contains distinctive traces of all critical activities of archaeology of things that happened in the past. This gives the reason as to why the top soil is so much valued while giving information about archaeology. (Bloemers & Bodemarchief, 2010). Field walking includes all the materials that are into or onto the top soil above. It also incudes all the materials from the features that are under the top soil that are exposed as a result of cultivation or ground works which come as plough soil. Because of the cultivation, different sources of materials are mixed together making a certain proportion of the soils contents to be seen on the surface. (Gabler, 2009)
We have two ways of carrying out field walking, namely; line walking and grid walking. (Darvill, 2008). Line walking is where lines of transects are created at certain intervals and the field walkers walk along each line collecting materials that are within the line. The lines must be divided into stints and the field walkers then bag the materials recovered by the line and the stint. The second technique which is grid walking is where the survey area is divided into squares and the field walkers use the fixed amount of time to work on each square collecting all the materials that they can see during the specified time of search. After the specified time ends, the field walkers bag the collected materials together then they move to the next square. In both ways of carrying out field walking, it is preferable that each sample unit, I. e a line stint or a grid square is treated the same or equally because if not so, the results are considered to be worthless. Lastly, the finds collected are cleaned, sorted and identified, then, different categories are mapped and the patterns identified. In this context, I am going to discuss with you an investigation of the vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, late Bronze Age and Early Iron age Lo. (Pyle, 2000).
Investigating the vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age
The research is about field walking and is set to examine the nature and extent of prehistoric activity of human in the Vale of Pewsey, a relatively poor area located between the Marborough Downs and Salisbury Plain. (Timperley, 1954) The investigation will take place at the archaeological deposits at All Cannings Cross. (Cunnington, 1923). The late Bronze Age and the early Iron Age is best understood by the currency of All Cannings Cross Wares assemblages, the composition which evolve with time. The Early All Cannings Ware Assemblages consist of round shouldered large jars with stamped in- filled decoration, bipartite bowls and tripartite jars (Cunlife 2005, 90). The Late All Cannings Ware series is known by the decreasing number of large decorated jars, an increase in number of furrowed, carinated bowls some of which are long necked and an increasing use of haematite coating (ibid, 92). It is discovered that the date to the emergence of the Late All Cannings Cross Group is not shown. The majority of All Cannings Cross Wares were made using local raw materials and the rest of the vessels incorporated materials from the wider region (Morris in Lawson2000, 140-9).
The late Bronze and the early Iron Age sites represent a period of agricultural and artifact deposition. For instance the, the East Chisenbury site is 2.5 meters high and 140 m wide mound in the landscape that has never been affected by erosion, cultivation and tree planting. (McGoverm & Brown,1986). After field walking, the materials that can be recovered from this place include; animal bones, pottery, worked bones, stones, clay and metalwork. (Kipfer 2000)
Specific issues and field working methods
Establishment of a scale and the All Cannings Cross Site will be instrumental for the work to take place. In 1911, the cunningtons investigated the site after a result of the discovery of a large hammerstones on the surface of the field that had been ploughed. The field is located at the foot of the chalk slope in the vale of Pewsey and with it is the enclosure of Rybury Camp above. (Wild, 2003) Between 1920 and 1922, three excavations followed in three seasons which are equivalent to 15 weeks of excavations that took place. As we have no idea either of the techniques used or the clearance scale but it is likely that the areas trenched could be repositioned with some certainty and the latest re-excavation at the Sanctuary on Overton Hill has brought into show more about Maude Cunnington’s field techniques. (Averkieva & Sherman,1992) The work at the sanctuary is a likely indication that the deposits that had been trenched by Cunnington still remain in the areas.
Models of archaeological research designs require one to develop an intellectual programme of historical issues to be investigated and the nature of the data at hand hence need for a resource assessment. The resource assessment will help to establish the character of the data set. (Williams, 2007
The areas to the west or any area under cultivation will need to be field walked, hence need for field walking programme. It is also important for the remaining deposits to be assessed to provide a basis of designing an adequate programme of research and intervention. (Chakrabarti, 2001).
A consistent approach is required for field walking survey to ensure that the materials collected were accurately plotted and collected in a standardized way. It is also vital for the process of collection to be able to register comparisons of quality and quantity across an individual site or the whole of the survey region. The entire approach is better because the individual approach will result to resource constraints in favor of the utilization of the standardized grid system.
The most effective and accurate way of preparing grids for field walk is to site surveying poles along a fixed line. Putting down reference points as work proceeds is vital to avoid or reduce errors. Every intersection of the imaginary box grid will then be marked by a visible marker to avoid confusion. (Tawrell, 2006).
Knowing that the topography of the region (pewsey) is not of the same level, the estimates will vary according to the amount of the surface area which can be effectively explored, visually, by individual field walkers who are competent at working on a stint or a traverse. So, it is wise to take use the estimates of the individual workers of mixed ability to work on stint and traverse. (Grant, 2006)
Adopting a grid system will provide mechanism that will allows comparisons to be made between the various area and potential focal points across a site or between different classifications of settlements at a scale associated with the investigations of archaeology. (Schwind, 2007). Other than, recording data, it is important to record the date and the duration of field walking. (Kipfer, 2000) In addition to that, the light present should be assessed; moisture in the soil, field condition and the type of crops grown should be noted. The site details which concerns the physical geology and the directions should be kept as these are details for the location. Modern technology can be incorporated with the field walking activity to enhance accuracy e. g, by using GPS and GIS.
Field walking is very vital in archaeological field work survey especially where visibility is good. Field walking includes all the materials that are into or onto the top soil above. It also incudes all the materials from the features that are under the top soil that are exposed as a result of cultivation or ground works which come as plough soil. The method works well or best on either ploughed ground or little vegetative surfaces. This is because on the ploughed surfaces, the soil is regularly turned bringing the artifacts to the top. Erosion is also instrumental in making field walking effective as it carries away the top soil allowing the underneath to be exposed. Modern technology has eased the activity of field walking because of its accuracy for example the use of GPS and GIS.