Several different types of survey will be undertaken at many different site-types as part of the Bennachie Landscapes Project
Usually in advance of more detailed survey, such as plane table survey, sketch plans are produced. Sketch surveys are unmeasured, or roughly measured with paces, and focus on details such as the location of doors and windows, as well as other interesting architectural features, such as hearths and whether walls join or abut. This allows the surveyors to have an idea of the size of the site, roughly what it should look like, and also allows for any additional discussion and investigation at different points of interest. For instance, the presence of phasing can often be seen in certain structural details. If a site is examined in detail using a sketch survey, the full detailed survey, which comes later, can be planned and undertaken much more efficiently and effectively.
Plane Table Survey
This type of survey allows the accurate recording of buildings and other architectural features, such as field boundary walls, with little specialist equipment, and minimal training. The surveys produce scaled drawings that illustrate the size of features, their spatial relationships to other objects, and record the building materials used in construction. The chronological order in which buildings were constructed or altered can also sometimes be shown, allowing for on-the-ground analysis and interpretation by volunteers.
In a relatively short amount of time, useful and accurate records of the structural remains of sites can be recorded. Once surveys of all structures in the Colony have been undertaken, they will be compared and contrasted with the aim of answering some of the research questions relating to the ‘micro-history’ of the Colony in mind. They will also be used to compare the Colony to nearby contemporary settlements to identify any similarities and differences between them.
A guide to recording archaeological sites produced by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland can be found Here
For larger scale architectural and landscape features, GPS (Global Positioning System) survey can be the best method to use. When using a differential GPS system, an accuracy of as little as a few centimetres can be achieved. Rather than undertaking a plane table survey over large areas like enclosed fields, which would involve joining together many individual plans, GPS is used for mapping. This technique is particularly useful for long, linear features such as field boundary walls and pathways. Several points are recorded along the length of the feature, and this information is then plotted onto maps, allowing the rapid charting of the built landscape.