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Magnetic Survey


Geological and buried manmade features or objects can cause local variations in the earth’s magnetic field which can be measured with a magnetometer. Detailed magnetic survey can be used to effectively define areas of past human activity. It is a quick, cost effective technique and has become the industry standard for archaeological surveys.


Buried Objects


Heated objects have their magnetic properties markedly changed. This is called 'thermoremanent' effects. These effects can be very large and strong such as an igneous dyke, through to a horse shoe nail in the top soil causing a 'ferrous' spike. Features with thermoremanent magnetisation can be easily found with gradiometers so that objects such as brick walls, foundations, steel or clay pipes, hearths, kilns and ferrous artifacts associated with archaeology will stand out from the background magnetic levels.

Cut Features


As well as thermoremanent effects, more subtle changes in magnetisation can be detected. Silting and deliberate infilling of ditches and pits with magnetically enhanced soil creates a relative contrast against the much lower levels of magnetism within the subsoil into which the feature is cut. Material such as subsoil and non-magnetic bedrock used to create former earthworks and walls may be mapped as areas of lower enhancement compared to surrounding soils.

Factors affecting the magnetic survey may include soil type, local geology, previous human activity, disturbance from modern services.


The SUMO cart system


The SUMO cart system utilises multiple magnetic sensors combined with RTK GPS. It features improved resolution with each data point being accurately georeferenced. Such cart system produce improved results when compared to traditional magnetic surveys, including:


  • 50% Better In-line Resolution

  • Greater Positional Accuracy

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In the example above a plethora of magnetic responses of definite archaeological interest have been identified. t. Ring ditches; possible square and round barrows; large pits and / or burials; trackways and droveways; plus rectilinear enclosures and former field systems are all visible in the data. The results could indicate Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British and Medieval activity on the site. The geophysical results also show former field boundaries, possible ridge and furrow ploughing, plus complex palaeo-landscape features.

Survey Methodologies


Detailed Magnetic Survey


Soil Self-Potential


Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT)


Soil Thermal-Resistivity Testing


Electromagnetic Ground Conductivity


Electromagnetic Location (EML)


Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)


Soil Resistivity Testing




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Buried Mineshaft

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