BARS_2 - A Second Archaeological Remote Sensing Project at Balla Secondary School, Co Mayo, Ireland.
The 11 ha D-shaped enclosure at Mayo Abbey
The first project in Balla Secondary School (BSS), BARS_1, was developed and delivered in 2012/2013 and much experience gained in the process.
Following the success of BARS_1, it was decided to extend the project into the 2013/2014 academic year and hence BARS_2 was born. This will use Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) and geophysics to investigate features associated with an 11 ha Early Christian monastic enclosure. The project will involve the 2013/14 Transition Year class. This site is located at Mayo Abbey in the catchment area of Balla Secondary School and about 5km to the south of the school. Part of this site had previously been researched some years ago for an MSc in Applied Geophysics.
Education in Remote Sensing
BARS_2 will involve pre-third level education Transition Year (TY) Students in the age range 15 to 16 years. This remote sensing module, from the perspective of the teaching activity at BSS, provides input to the overall objectives of the TY programme. In addition it provides an opportunity to integrate elements of a number of subjects in the syllabus; in particular, history, geography, physics, ICT (information and Communications Technology) and art. BARS_2 will have an additional element in relation to agricultural science where soils in the survey area will be investigated. From an ArcLand perspective BARS_2 will introduce the application of remote sensing to a younger audience who may find it offers ideas on future careers and education.
The BARS_2 Archaeological Remote Sensing Module
Previous work (Madden, 1999) has shown the monastic enclosure to be prospective using remote sensing techniques. The earlier work used a range of topographic and geophysical techniques on a local grid in an enclosed field to the southeast of what appears to be the main enclosure.
Topographic Survey (Madden, 1999)
A detailed topographic survey using a total station indicated there is a number of internal divisions and possible enclosures in this survey area.
Magnetic Susceptibility Survey (Madden, 1999)
A reconnaissance magnetic susceptibility survey was carried out to investigate settlement, agricultural or industrial activity in the vicinity of the monastic enclosure. The survey indicated distinct zonation and internal features contained within a boundary mirroring that of the main enclosure.
Magnetic Gradiometry Survey (Madden, 1999)
The magnetic gradiometry, surveyed at a higher sampling density than the magnetic susceptibility, revealed a complex pattern of enclosures and boundaries with evidence for cultivation in the southeast of the survey area.
BARS_2 is being delivered over 8 weeksÂ starting in January 2014. The remote sensing survey will further extend and define features discovered in the earlier survey and investigate the flora and cultivation in the southeast of the survey area.
BARS_2 will comprise:
- Introduction to remote sensing – technology with case histories
- Literature, aerial photography and map review
- Field trip to see the monastic site
- Planning the field survey
- The field survey – kite aerial photography, metal detecting, magnetic susceptibility, magnetic gradiometry, earth resistance and electrical resistivity tomography combined with soil analysis and vegetation survey.
- Data processing – using open source software
- Interpretation and discussion of results
- Presentation of the results in the school and to the local community at the ArcLand Archaeology Above and Below Workshop in April 2014.
We are interested in contacting groups, institutions and schools in Europe who may be involved in or planning a similar project. We are happy to share ideas and discuss the present work. Please send an email to eolas (at) lgs.ie or ballatranyear (at) gmail.com