Earthworks (archaeology)

Earthworks (archaeology)

In archaeology, earthworks are artificial changes in land level often known as "lumps and bumps". They can themselves be features or they can show features beneath the surface. [Muir, 77] Earthworks of interest to archaeologists include ancient fortifications, henges, mounds, tumuli, and other tombs [Wood, 85–96; see also: excavation] . Earthworks from deserted medieval villages can be used to determine the location, size, and layout of lost settlements.

Earthworks can vary in height from a few centimetres to the size of Silbury Hill at 40 metres. They can date from the neolithic through to last week. They can stretch for many tens of kilometres, "e.g." Offa's Dyke.

Shallow earthworks are often more visible in aerial photographs taken when the sun is low in the sky and shadows are more pronounced. [Wilson, 38] Similarly, earthworks may be more visible after a frost or a light dusting of snow. [Aston, 14] An accurate survey of the earthworks can enable them to be interpreted without the need for excavation. [Taylor, 59–60]



*Aston, Mick (2002) "Interpreting the Landscape", Tempus, ISBN 07524 2520X
*Muir, Richard (2004) "Landscape Encyclopedia", Bollington, Cheshire: Windgather, ISBN 0-9545575-0-6
*Taylor, Christopher (1974) "Fieldwork in Medieval Archaeology", London: Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-2850-3
*Wilson, D.R. (2000) "Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists", 2nd ed., Stroud: Tempus, ISBN 0-7524-1498-4
*Wood, Eric (1975) "Collins Field Guide to Archaeology", 4th ed., London: Collins, ISBN 0-00-219168-7

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