Archaeological surveys

Geophysical surveys have been applied to archaeological investigations since the early 20th century. They provide a rapid, cost effective method of evaluating remains without excavation.

SUMO provides a complete range of near surface geophysical surveys. They are with applications in archaeological prospection for the assessment of both green and brown field sites as part of the planning application process.

These geophysical techniques can be used in a number of key areas and offer a cost-effective way of assessing different sites: -

Rural Sites

These often cover large areas. They will need a low cost survey to assess the archaeological potential before any work is undertaken. The typical targets found are settlement sites and ditches; pits, post holes, field systems and enclosures; buried megaliths and kilns and industrial sites. Typical sites are wind farms, solar farms, pipe line and cable corridors. As well as commercial & residential development, road schemes etc.

Urban Sites

Compared to rural sites, evaluations in towns and cities make different demands on archaeological prospection. Depths of deposits are often much greater, stratigraphy is more complex and surface conditions can be challenging.

  • building foundations,

  • industrial archaeology,

  • town ditches and walls and former road surfaces

  • Historic Buildings and Churches

Historic Buildings and Churches

Geophysical surveys are often commissioned to investigate these sites as part of a study of the building and its immediate environs. The typical targets found are:

  • vaults,

  • tombs,

  • graves and cist burials; historic gardens; building foundations and moat profiles.

We are a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) Registered Organisation. All our archaeological surveys are carried out to the CIfA and the English Heritage geophysical survey guidelines as a minimum standard.


Reconnaissance magnetic susceptibility survey showing an enhanced area outlined red for detailed magnetic survey.


Results of the detailed survey over the area outlined red. The data clearly showing a concentration of archaeological activity in the region.


Resistance survey results showing in some detail the layout of buried walls of a former abbey site.