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The Solar Series... Geophysical Surveys

The third topic in our solar series explores SUMO’s Geophysical surveys.

As most solar farms are located in rural areas, there is normally a need to address the issue of potential archaeology, whether a 10ha or a 1000ha site.

The good news, is that geophysical surveys provide a rapid, cost-effective method of evaluating archaeological remains, without excavation. 

The most common technique used is a Detailed Magnetic Survey, which can be conducted in 3 ways:

  1. Handheld Surveys – on small sites or where access is compromised.

  2. Hand Cart Surveys – for larger sites, but where there is concern over potential crop damage or there are particular site conditions which preclude the use of an ATV.

  3. Cart and ATV Surveys – our most cost-effective survey, where we can collect up to 100ha/week!

Above left – setting out a site with GPS for a handheld survey. Above Right – a handheld Magnetic survey in progress.

Above - using the latest technology, SUMO can collect up to 100ha/week with our ATV towed Magnetometer cart systems.

The typical targets which can be found are settlement sites and ditches; pits, post holes, field systems and enclosures; buried megaliths, plus kilns and industrial sites.

Above – Geophysical data from part of a 200ha scheme.

Above -  Plan view of magnetic survey data shows two rectilinear enclosures, of which the southern-most may be a cursus monument.  A north-east / south-west aligned field system has also been identified, along with a post-medieval field boundary, evidence of ploughing and modern underground services. A trenching strategy can now be devised using this data and  targeting the anomalies in the geophysics.


SUMO’s geophysical surveys inform the archaeological trenching strategy, targeting anomalies in the geophysics. However, in many cases the geophysics reveals no archaeology, which may negate the requirement for any intrusive archaeological investigation altogether.


Don’t forget that this is just one of eight surveys that SUMO can supply for your solar scheme, from Design, to Construction, and even Monitoring of your Solar panels once installed.
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