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On Saturday 18 August 2012, I was asked to carry out an introduction to dowsing course at Southwell in Nottinghamshire this was part of a project being carried out by MB Archaeology for Southwell Community Archaeology Group.

The group were carrying out a project to undertake training in research, practical archaeology and communication skills under guidance of Community Archaeologists and Nottingham and Leicester Universities.

They were to explore and share the story of Burgage Green, a mysterious piece of open grassland in the heart of Southwell in Nottinghamshire

Early maps show substantial earthworks not visible now. They intended to investigate, identify, record, plan these hidden remains and carry out test-pit excavations.


The Scientific Proof from the Burgage Project

I had known the lead archaeologist Mathew Berrisford for a number of years. Although he was a sceptic at first I had demonstrated dowsing to him on a number of field trips, and he had become proficient in his own right. I have conducted workshops with some success for his students prior to a dig at Elmton Nottinghamshire and also at Creswell Crags.

We decided it would be a good idea to dowse the site prior to any Scientific surveys taking place.

The use of dowsing within archaeology is a controversial topic and the practice has some supporters but more than its fair share of objectors.

To this end it was decided that the dowsing element of the surveying would be undertaken before the LIDAR imagery was obtained and before the geophysical survey was conducted. This ensured the dowsing results could not in any way be reliant or influenced upon known archaeological features highlighted by more “scientific” methods.

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The blue diagonals running North West to South East mark the places where we got a reaction from the dowsing rods

Lidar is a surveying method carried out by flying over the site in a light aircraft. The Lidar device measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target. This Lidar survey clearly confirms the results of the dowsers.

The Electro Resistivity survey again confirms the results.

The dig resulted in a medieval trackway with the remains of at least four buildings and many shards of medieval pottery.