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someone surveying a field

Training opportunities

Training is an essential part of feeling confident with the work you are doing as an investigator of the historic landscape. During the course of the SRP project we provided free training in archaeological field survey techniques and historical document research to Scotland's Rural Past volunteers to help them get started and to develop best practice in their field work and research.

RCAHMS aims to continue running training courses, in partnership with other heritage-sector organisations where appropriate. A small number of courses are likely to be run each year in archaeological field recording and historical document research. Other courses and workshops may be developed in the future, so if you have any suggestions for possible training courses, please get in touch with the Community Archaeology Team. Information about forthcoming training will be sent round to people on the volunteer list, and will also be posted on the RCAHMS website 'News' page.

You may also find our publication A Practical Guide to Recording Archaeological Sites a useful tool for your survey work.

Archaeological Survey and Recording training

Our training courses in Archaeological Survey and Recording provided a thorough background in the skills and knowledge required to survey and record deserted rural settlement sites. They also provided an opportunity to work with experienced archaeologists and surveyors in an informal atmosphere and to meet people with similar interests from other areas.

Courses were held throughout Scotland, in response to volunteer demand and training is conducted in the field, at deserted township and farmstead sites chosen to be representative of those commonly found in the local area. SRP ran over 40 fieldwork training courses since Spring 2007, from Shetland and the Western Isles to the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Training was delivered by experts from RCAHMS and SRP and was tailored specifically to suit the needs and the experience each group. It covered the following topics:

What are you looking for?

  • Survey, reconnaissance and identification of rural settlements and landscapes

What are you looking at?

  • Observation and interpretation of rural settlements and landscapes

How do you record it?

  • Field sketching
  • Measured survey using tapes and plane table
  • Writing site descriptions
  • Digital photography
  • Using the SRP recording forms

All of these topics are covered in our publication A Practical Guide to Recording Archaeological Sites.

Historical Document Research training

Our Historical Document training courses introduced the principal sources available for the study of deserted rural settlements in Scotland and how to access them.

Courses were run in collaboration with colleagues at the RCAHMS and regional archives. They covered the following topics:

Introduction to the records

Printed material

Maps and plans

Aerial photographs

Census records and valuation rolls

Estate records

Accessing the resources

National archive and library resources

Local archive and library resources

On-line resources

Site visits and orientations

Introduction to the RCAHMS and its collections

Introduction to the National Archives of Scotland, or, local archives and their collections

Introduction to the National Library of Scotland and its collections (for courses based in Edinburgh)

These topics are covered in our publication A Practical Guide to Recording Archaeological Sites and the Historic Documents guidance notes which we prepared over the course of SRP.

What skills were covered?

Archaeological Survey and Recording

  • Critical observation and interpretation of archaeological sites and landscapes
  • Awareness and understanding of maps and documents for interpreting rural settlements
  • How to create an accurate document of archaeological sites, including drawn and written records at different levels of detail
  • Team working and fieldwork practice
  • How to use a range of survey and recording equipment

Historic Document Research

  • How to plan and develop your research
  • How to access archival resources effectively
  • Awareness and understanding of the potential and limitations of different archive, printed and on-line resources
  • Critical interpretation of maps, aerial photographs and historical
© Historic Environment Scotland - Scottish Charity No. SC045925.