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Fieldwalking in Archaeology Report


Field walking can be defined as a technique for examining or studying archaeological sites by walking in a systematic way across a ploughed field collecting artifacts on the surface (Fasham, 1980). In most cases, it is practiced with the aim of locating or mapping the distribution and the extent of archaeological sites. It is believed that the top soil contains distinctive traces of all critical activities of archaeology (Wiseman & Zachos, 2003).

This explains why the topsoil is so much valued while giving information about archaeology (Bloemers & Bodemarchief in Behoud en Ontwikkeling, 2010). Field walking includes all the materials found in the soil. It also includes all the materials from the features that are under the top soil, which are exposed as a result of cultivation or ground works that come as plough soil.

Different sources of materials are mixed due to cultivation making a certain proportion of the soil’s content to be seen on the surface (Gabler, 2009). There are two ways of carrying out field walking. This includes line walking and grid walking (Darvill, 2008).

Line walking is where the 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 should 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 the search (Haas & Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen, 2011).

After the specified time ends, the field walkers bag the collected materials together, then they move to the next square. Later on, different categories are mapped and the patterns identified. In this context, the paper discusses an investigation of the vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire of the late Bronze Age and Early Iron age (Pyle, 2000; Ellis, Powell, Hawkes & Allen, 2008).

Investigating the vale of Pewsey and Wiltshire

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 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 the number of furrowed, carinated bowls some of which are long necked and an increasing use of haematite coating (Cunlife, 2005, 92).

It can be noted that date to the emergence of the Late All Cannings Cross Group is not shown. The majority of All Cannings Cross Wares was made using local raw materials and the rest of the vessels incorporated materials from the wider region (Morris in Lawson, 2000, 140-9).

The East Chisenbury site is 2.5 meters high and 140 meters wide mound in the landscape that has never been affected by erosion, cultivation and tree planting (McGovern & 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).

Issues and field working methods

Establishment of a scale and the All Cannings Cross Site will be instrumental in the work to take place. In the early 20th century, the Cunningtons carried out investigations at the site. This was prompted when huge chunks of hammerstones were found. The field is located close to the vale of Pewsey. In addition, there was the enclosure of Rybury Camp above (Wild, 2003).

In the years between 1920 and 1922, three excavations followed in three seasons, which are equivalent to 15 weeks of excavations that took place. 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 the fore more about Maude Cunnington’s field techniques (Averkieva & Sherman, 1992).

Work at the sanctuary indicates that the deposits that had been trenched by Cunnington still remain in the areas. Thus, resource assessment is critical. The resource assessment will help to establish the character of the data set (Okabe, 2006). The areas to the west or any area under cultivation will need to be field walked hence prompting for a need for the field walking program.

It is also important for the remaining deposits to be assessed to provide a basis of designing an adequate program 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 in resource constraints in favor of the utilization of the standardized grid system.

The most appropriate way of preparing grids for field walk is to use site surveying poles along a fixed line. Putting down reference points as work proceeds are vital to avoid or reduce errors. Every intersection of the imaginary box grid will then be marked using a visible marker to avoid confusion (Tawrell, 2006).

Notably, the topography of the region (Pewsey) is not on the same level. Thus, 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 (Grant, 2006).

Adopting a grid system will provide a mechanism that will allow comparisons. This will also allow comparisons between the various classifications of settlements at a scale associated with the investigations of archaeology (Schwind, 2007; Wilkinson & Kent Archaeological Field School 2007).

Other than recording data, it is important to record the date and duration of field walking (Kipfer, 2000). In addition to that, the light present should be assessed. In addition, moisture in the soil, field condition, and the crops should be noted. The site details which concerns the physical geology and the directions should be kept as these are the details of the location.


Field walking is very vital in archaeological field work survey, especially where visibility is good. Field walking includes all materials that are into or onto the top soil. It also includes all 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 model is best suited for ploughed grounds. It can also be appropriate for surfaces with slight foliage. In this case, the soil is frequently turned to expose the artifacts and bring them on the surface. Erosion is also instrumental in facilitating field walking. In this case, it erodes the top soil allowing the underneath to be exposed.

Reference List

Averkieva, Y & Sherman, MA 1992, Kwakiutl string figures, UBC Press, Vancouver.

Bloemers, JHF & Bodemarchief in Behoud en Ontwikkeling 2010, The cultural landscape & heritage paradox: Protection and development of the Dutch archaeological-historical landscape and its European dimension, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam.

Chakrabarti, DK 2001, Archaeological geography of the Ganga Plain: The lower and the middle Ganga, Permanent Black, Delhi.

Cunnington, MEP 1923, Early iron age inhabited site at All Cannings Cross Farm, Wiltshire: A description of the excavations, Simpson, Devizes.

Darvill, T 2008, The concise Oxford dictionary of archaeology, Oxford University Press, New York.

Ellis, C, Powell, AB, Hawkes, J & Allen, MJ 2008, An Iron Age settlement outside Battlesbury Hillfort, Warminster, and sites along the Southern Range Road, Wessex Archaeology, Salisbury.

Fasham, PJ 1980, Fieldwalking for archaeologists, Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, S.l.

Gabler, RE 2009, Physical geography, Cengage Learning, Belmont, CA.

Grant, S 2006, Alternative ageing: The natural way to hold back the years, Michael Joseph, London.

Haas, TCA & Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen 2011, Fields, farms and colonists: Intensive field survey and early Roman colonization in the Pontine region, central Italy, Barkhuis, Eelde.

Kipfer, BA 2000, Encyclopedic dictionary of archaeology, Kluwer Acad./Plenum Publ., New York.

Kipfer, BA 2000, Encyclopedic dictionary of archaeology, Kluwer Acad./Plenum Publ. New York.

McGovern, PE & Brown, R 1986, The late bronze and early iron ages of central Transjordan, the Baqʻah Valley project, 1977-1981, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Okabe, A 2006, GIS-based studies in the humanities and social sciences, CRC/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL.

Pyle, RM 2000, Walking the high ridge: Life as field trip, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis Minn.

Schwind, M 2007, Dynamic pricing and automated resource allocation for complex information services: Reinforcement learning and combinatorial auctions, Springer, Berlin.

Tawrell, P 2006, Camping & wilderness survival: The ultimate outdoors book, Paul Tawrell, Lebanon.

Timperley, HW 1954, The Vale of Pewsey, Hale, London

Wild, T 2003, Village England: A social history of the countryside, Tauris, London.

Wilkinson, P & Kent Archaeological Field School 2007, Archaeology: What it is, where it is, and how to do it, Archaeopress, Oxford.

Wiseman, J & Zachos, KL 2003, Landscape archaeology in southern Epirus, Greece I, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Athens.

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