Back to Home page
Steve Kemp helping the group to use the plane table. Long  shadows from the Winter sun made it clear where to put the measuring pole. The interesting humps and bumps in Godson's Grove and Squirrel's Close (names dating from 1279) were in the first fields to be surveyed by the group.  We asked Steve Kemp of the Archaeological Field Unit of Cambridgeshire County Council to show us how to use a plane table.

The "plane table" consists of:

*A drawing table mounted on a tripod and clamped in a horizontal plane.
*A sight rule.
*A spirit level.
*A plumb line.

With the addition of measuring tapes and poles this traditional surveying method maps the details of earthworks accurately.  A scale is used to plot areas which are then drawn on paper using long and short lines to show the steepness of the slopes.  

Plot of the measurements taken using the plane table.  The thicker end of each hatched line indicates the higher ground.

Rounded Rectangular Callout: Touch a picture for more details.


The pattern of humps in the field is easier to define once it has been plotted on to paper.  A ditch runs across the site and the shapes of the raised areas show clearly. 

Are these where houses once stood?  



Links to more details
Documentary evidence Plane table surveying
Place name analysis Resistivity surveying
Aerial photography analysis Dowsing and pond dipping
Geology Courses and visits
Soil sampling Community links
Metal detecting Acknowledgements