Tag Archives: Education

Day of Archaeology – Historic Land-use Assessment

The Historic Land-use Assessment (HLA) is a joint project between RCAHMS and Historic Scotland. It is an analysis of the present landscape, recording the visible traces of past land-use across Scotland, and presenting it as a digital map. The Scottish landscape is not, and has never been, static and been managed, exploited and altered by past human activity over a long period of time. Evidence of some of this activity can still be traced on the ground today, though it is not always obvious to the untrained eye. HLA, therefore, aims to draw out this evidence from the present landscape and to provide a glimpse of the depth of time concealed within our landscape and immediate surroundings.

Paper and digital maps form the basis of the interpretation process and we consult a wide variety of materials to determine how the landscape has changed over time. The types of sources that we use include Ordnance Survey mapping, both current and historic, aerial photography, information from RCAHMS collections available through Canmore and any relevant written documentation. This information is used to determine the predominant current land-use of each part of the landscape and if there is any visible evidence for past land-use. In order to present this data, every part of the country has an Historic Land-use Type (the current land-use), of which there is a choice of 60, and up to three Relict Land-use types, of which there are 70. Each type is characterised by its period of origin, as well as its form and function. This data is collated, digitised and edited, and then made available via the HLA mapping website. Here a digital map of the data generated by the project can be viewed. The website also contains a number of supporting documents should anyone want to find out more about the project.

 HLA Officers Chris Nelson and Kirsty Millican at work. Kirsty is currently working on editing maps from Dumfriesshire, while Chris is busy interpreting the Lanarkshire area specifically Abington and Crawford.

Currently around 71% of the country is available to view and another 5%, the Galloway area, has been made available specially for Day of Archaeology!  We work by council area: Lanarkshire and Dumfriesshire are ongoing at the moment, work will then move into the Scottish borders, Angus, Perthshire, Argyll, Invernesshire, Skye and finally finishing in Orkney.

Ultimately, the HLA project provides a valuable tool for interpreting and understanding the landscape. It helps us understand the historic dimension of the landscape, from traces of prehistoric settlement and agriculture to the more recent effects of intensive agriculture and industry. This historic landscape holds evidence of the distant past inaccessible to any other means of research and gives voice to aspects of life that do not usually figure in written history. This makes it invaluable as a resource for learning and education.

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Day of Archaeology – Amy Gillespie CBA Community Archaeology Placement

RCAHMS also hosts placements from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and at the moment Amy Gillespie is working as a Community Archaeologist. Below is her contribution to Day of Archaeology as she explains her placement, work she’s currently undertaking particularly with the Scotland’s Rural Past team at RCAHMS as well as her plans for the future.

As I’ve described in the video clip I’m here at RCAHMS for one year as a trainee community archaeologist. I recently completed an MSc in Scottish Studies and I was working part time at the University of Edinburgh as an e-learning resource developer when this opportunity came up. There are quite a few ‘on the job’ training opportunities out there at the moment and I think they are a great way for newly qualified people like me to gain lots of skills and experience.

Today I’m working on Gairloch estate maps, using our online database to catalogue and link each map to relevant sites on Canmore. Once this is completed the maps will be available to the public online. The maps came to be digitised following an SRP training session in Gairloch and so I’m sure the SRP groups in the area will be keen to see them.

One of the great things about my placement is the variety of projects and activities I can get involved in: I have been working with the SRP team validating records sent in by volunteers before uploading them to Canmore; I’ve been to conferences, including one on the Isle of Man where we held a training session in survey and recording techniques; I’m spending time at East Lothian Council and Archaeology Scotland in the run up to East Lothian Heritage Fortnight and Scottish Archaeology Month; I’m in the process of starting up the Edinburgh branch of Young Archaeologists’ Club; and I’m preparing for a two week survey trip to Rum! Phew.

I hope you have a good Day of Archaeology! For more information on the Community Archaeology Bursaries Project go to the CBA website and visit out Facebook Page.

Day of Archaeology – Skills for the Future Trainees

The Skills for the Future trainees contributed to Day of Archaeology early as they were presenting a showcase of their work at an event at Edinburgh Castle on the 21st July and some will not be around on Day of Arch as they are taking a well earned holiday! Here the trainees explain what they’ve been working on over the past 6 months and their future plans.

On the day the trainees presented their work in various sections at RCAHMS including General Collections, NCAP and placements with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. The trainees; Dave, Nora, Craig, Kate, Bryony, Elaine and Tania have been with the Commission for 6 months so roughly half way through their placements here.

Dave Avery and Nora Noonan
‘Goings On in General Collections’
The last four months have seen us working with a wide range of archaeological and architectural material, the focus being on hierarchical cataloguing and best practice when re-housing archival material to ensure long lasting preservation. We’ve witnessed a major migration of RCAHMS records into a new database and have acted as guinea pigs in testing this new database, working closely with Collections staff to feedback our experiences. We’ve spent time in the National Collection of Aerial Photography digitising and centre-pointing as well as producing Feature pages for their website. We have really enjoyed working and learning from people from all over the organisation, the programme of work has been extremely varied and there is still half a year to go.

Craig Turner and Kate Cochlan
‘Mosaics, Documentaries and Field Trips’
We’ve been based for the most part in the NCAP department. We’ve undertaken a range of tasks via which we have slowly but surely familiarised ourselves with the photographic material in its varied forms – film, print and digital. We were lucky enough to be involved with the work preceding the Operation Crossbow documentary, broadcast on BBC Two in May, helping to digitise, centre-point and prepare the relevant imagery. Other activities have included learning about the surrogate copying process while working with All Scotland Survey material; receiving preservation and conservation training; learning about colour balancing and RAW image processing; going on field trips with the Survey and Recording department and spending time with the Collections department. We particularly enjoyed developing the Glasgow news item on the NCAP website – preparing snapshots of two geo-rectified aerial mosaics and writing accompanying feature articles. We’re both exited about the next stage of our training – working collaboratively to deliver a prototype package for a fresh and exciting new look for the NCAP website.

Bryony Jackson, Elaine Johnston and Tania Dron
‘French Verbs to Facial Hair’
We began our Education and Outreach work programme by developing resources for Scran – Features, Pathfinder Packs, and PDF supporting materials on themes relative to the Curriculum for Excellence. We were able to select out own languages, citizenships, battles, royalty, nuclear power, comedians, cannibalism and facial hair! We really enjoyed Scran’s variety and the opportunity to expand on our experiences of developing web content. Stepping from online resources to on-site activities, our three month placements with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland started in April. This gave us the chance to develop the educational aspects of locations ranging across Scotland’s castles, museums and country houses.

Showcase Event

Some more photographs of the event itself in the Devil’s Elbow at Edinburgh Castle.

The Skills for the Future trainees can be followed on their

own blog at http://skills.rcahms.gov.uk and Twitter page and by following the #SftF hashtag.

 

(Photography by Derek Smart RCAHMS)

RCAHMS Skills for the Future

One week to go until Day of Archaeology and some of RCAHMS participants are the Skills for the Future trainees who have recently set up their own blog and twitter page. They will be getting involved to talk about each of their placements and how they are getting on 6 months into working at RCAHMS.