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Jim looking for Fairy Shrimps in one of the pingo ponds.  Being translucent as their name suggests they are difficult to see. Pond dipping may seem to be an unusual activity for Historians but the group had read about the rare fauna to be found in some of the pingo ponds in the parishes of Thriplow and Fowlmere.  These creatures had first been identified by Martin Walters in the 1960s with details published in "Nature in Cambridgeshire" in  1972 and 1978. 

When looking at aerial photographs we noticed many pingos surrounding the village.  Before being ploughed flat they would have been a significant feature of the landscape and even now several are still visible.  In wet seasons, such as occurred in Autumn 2001, the rise in the water table causes ponds to appear in some fields.


Rounded Rectangular Callout: Touch a picture to find out more.
CHIROCEPHALUS DAIPHANUS or Faiiry Shrimp.  Actual size 2-3cm.

Eggs of the Fairy Shrimp can survive for over two years in the dried out mud from a pond.  Repopulation after water accumulates can be rapid, allowing the adult stage to be reached before the mud dries out again. 

Pegs in the ground mark out features found by dowsing.  These positions were then measured and plotted on paper. In 2000 we asked Dr David Trump, who had excavated the tumulus in 1953-4, to talk about his finds.  At first he had not been able to locate the precise site - field boundaries had changed so much over the years - so he got out his dowsing rods.  The site turned out to be just where it can be seen in the  aerial photograph  which was taken later.

Several group members tried the technique of dowsing in another field, finding some similarities with a later resistivity survey.  Dowsing is thought to be influenced by the gravitational pull of the earth and can make use of rods formed from a variety of  materials such as metal coat hangers or sticks.

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