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Information for archaeomagnetists

The main aim of the project is to demonstrate and communicate the potential of archaeomagnetic dating for routine in UK archaeology. This has been partly achieved through the production of a database of archaeomagnetic studies that have been carried out in the UK since the 1950s. The database was constructed with archaeologists and archaeomagnetists in mind, and was designed following guidance and suggestions from both communities. It is important to note that it was not intended to replace the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) archaeomagnetic directional database, instead designed with a key archaeological focus to demonstrate how the technique has been applied in the past. The database will act to store the information required to construct secular variation (SV) curves, and will allow the SV curves to be regularly updated following the inclusion of new data.

The database was designed in a way that would allow these questions to be answered, filtering the data so that only the studies of interest are presented. The database was constructed using Microsoft Access 2007, but earlier versions as well as alternative formats have also been provided. The database can be downloaded from the 'Database of UK archaeomagnetic studies' section.

The database currently holds information on over 760 archaeomagnetic dates collected from over 375 sites, from all areas of the UK (figures correct as of February 2010).

The interviews with the archaeomagnetists indicated that the key information required from the database included:

Information Details
 Basic archaeomagnetic data  Declination, inclination, alpha-95, precision parameter (k)
 The site location  Defined by the latitude and longitude values
 Time periods  Defined using years AD/BC and by archaeological periods of time
 Details of the archaeological date assigned to the feature How was the date assigned? Does it relate to scientific dating evidence, artefact typologies, documentary evidence?

The map of archaeomagnetic studies

A location map of sites in the UK that have utilised archaeomagnetic dating has been produced. This is important in the development of the secular variation curves as we need to understand how the field varies both temporally and spatially. It is not enough to focus on th changes in the magnetic field through time, we also need to look at the differences recorded across the UK. The map will highlight areas of the country that need more work.


Details of current archaeomagnetic projects

To fill in the gaps in the knowledge of secular variation change, new features need to be sampled from different time periods and from different areas of the country. It is therefore necessary to promote current archaeomagnetic projects to archaeologists, developing communication between the two communities that may be beneficial to both groups. The projects will be presented in the 'Current archaeomagnetic projects' section.

If you would like to advertise a project on the website, please send an email to stating the following information:

  • Name and contact details
  • Institution and department
  • Project title
  • Brief project summary (max. 500 words)
  • What type of information do you need?
  • Project deadlines for collecting information

How you can be involved

To ensure the continued improvement and development of the secular variation curves used within the UK, we constantly need new information. If you would like to include any studies into the database, a form has been produced that can be downloaded that summarises the required information. Ideally, it would be useful to attach digital copies of the laboratory reports for the archaeomagnetic studies to the database, allowing greater access to the information for a range of people, including students, researchers, archaeomagnetists and archaeologists. It will also provide an archive of the reports, preserving them for the future.

Archaeomagnetic data submission form

If you require this information in an alternative format, please contact our team. You can also read our Website Accessibility Statement.