West Lothian and Gloucestershire Aerial Archaeology
the late spring of 2021 our Facebook pages were deleted
and our activities no longer posted routinely online.
John and the late Rosie Wells are the yellow dots (Cairnpapple 2011)
I have been interested in photography since the 1950s. At around the age of eight, I remember contact printing negatives without chemicals using a day-long exposure to sunlight. In the 1960s and early 70s (working with fully manual cameras) I enjoyed capturing night scenes, one of which won a national competition. The prize was an auto-exposure SLR, a technology that was not overly helpful for long exposures due to reciprocity failure. Wet streets following rainfall were often a key ingredient of the nightscapes, a consideration that would reappear for thermally imaging archaeological residues over 40 years later.
Kite aerial thermal infrared selfie with a dog published in 2011
My training and profession have involved a range of image gathering techniques ( X-ray crystallography, photomicroscopy, corona discharge photography and autoradiography etc). Geophysical methods of archaeological investigation often involve logging soil resistance or magnetic data points, one at a time, which are used to form an array of 'pixels', which is then refined through appropriate processing to form an image. Both within and outwith the visible spectrum, imaging is mass data point collection and should be performed under optimal conditions (for the technique and site of choice) and the resulting images processed to extract the maximum amount of inherent information. Standard photographic visualisation is only a starting point.
Rathrar, Rathbarna Quadrivalleted Enclosure Complex, Co. Roscommon, by SNAPS recipient Christy Lawless.
Family outing in a helicopter over our village, Bussage, Gloucestershire, in the 1980s.
Chichen Itza, another aerial image before we did kite aerial photography.
(Note the nostalgic scratch from the days of film)
Archeoscan Excavation of a
Roman building at Nesley Farm, Gloucestershire, in 2011.
John is on the right and
Rosie is out of shot flying the kite.
(click on image for larger version)
A section from one of seven West Lothian Council display boards on our work.
West Lothian Aerial Archaeology
with Cade Wells
Left to Right - Rosie, Cade and John Wells, Jim
Knowles and Heidi (Wells) Walker on Cairnpapple.
Jim was the only qualified archaeologist in the
group. He also has an MSc in computing.
Prehistoric double-ditched enclosure at Winchburgh by Jim Knowles
Kinneil Roman fortlet with excavation features on the extreme right (North) from ~30 year before.
inverted, near infrared kite aerial photo captured in
Detail in the fields around Cairnpapple
Derived from the Environment Agency Scottish LiDAR data
Gloucestershire Aerial Archaeology
with Heidi Walker
east of Coaley: Google data, Houseprices Lidar Map and
the same emphasised
* Edge Detect > Difference of Gaussians > Auto Equalise > Auto Levels
Barton End near Nailsworth
An example of how an accentuated LiDAR view can change the emphasis seen in a conventional photo.
Derived from: https://houseprices.io/lidar/ST8463197511/3d
Cirencester Abbey Grounds Park.
(using ACCENTUATE in Snapseed on a view of https://houseprices.io/lidar/SP0262402353/3d)
Some detail on Alney Island from:
Parch marks (left) at Gyde House,
Painswick, emphasised with GIMP by manipulating the
and the site of the old Stroud Water Company reservoir to the top right (south-east).
Way to Take Aerial Photos
Heidi in flight
The Simplest Approach to Aerial Thermography and Photography
GoPro type set-up and variant for a phone, with or without a Flir One thermal imager which must be secured, eg with PVC tape. The larger stick has lockable sections.
An even simpler approach is to use a 2D, full-screen phone headset:
Thermal delineation of a reservoir's wall footings below grazed grass in sunlight.