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UK Archaeomagnetic studies


Database of UK archaeomagnetic studies

All of the archaeomagnetic studies carried out in Britain since the 1950s have been collated into a database, summarising the key information from each study. A number of archaeologists and archaeomagnetists were consulted during the development of the database and it was clear that both groups wanted to access different information from the database. This resulted in two 'queries' being developed for the different users of the database:

  • The 'Archaeological Query' allows studies to be identified based on their location, the age of the feature, and the type of feature sampled
  • The 'Archaeomagnetic Data Query' allows studies to be identified based on their location, the age of the feature, the mode of acquisition of remanence, and the precision of the measured results

If you would like to add information into the archaeomagnetic database, please download the 'Submission for archaeomagnetic data' form, fill in the necessary information as fully as possible and return to Cathy Batt (

Archaeological Query

Submission for archaeomagnetic data

Archaeomagentic projects

This section summarises archaeomagnetic studies that are currently being carried out in the UK. Some of these projects may require additional features to be identified of a particular type, or from a specific period. If a newly identified feature is suitable for inclusion within a project, it may be possible to offer free or reduced cost archaeomagnetic dates, but this will need to be discussed further with the managers of the project.

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

Archaeomagnetic studies of sites within the North Atlantic Zone

Cathy Batt ( and Zoe Outram (, University of Bradford.

Previous research has been carried out by Batt and Outram on the application of archaeomagnetic dating to sites in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland, and more recently in the Faroe Islands. This project builds on this research to increase the number of studies carried out in the North Atlantic zone in order to gain a better understanding of how the geomagnetic field has behaved in the area over time.

Any features recorded in the area that are suitable for archaeomagnetic dating will be considered for this project, and can represent any archaeological period of time. A higher priority will be placed on features that are associated with additional dating evidence (scientific, archaeological, or documentary etc.).

Archaeomagnetic dating as part of an integrated chronology

Cathy Batt (, Zoe Outram (, Sarah-Jane Clelland (, University of Bradford.

The Archaeomagnetic Research Group at the University of Bradford has particular expertise in integrating archaeomagnetic data with other dating methods within complex stratigraphic sequences from a range of archaeological sites. The benefits of this approach include:

  • Archaeomagnetic dates are usually associated with a definite anthropogenic activity, with a clear relationship between the event dated and the archaeological event of interest.
  • The assessment of sequences of dates can result in an increase in the precision associated with the chronological information following the application of a statistical model.
  • The archaeomagnetic dates can be directly compared to the independent dating evidence, which will aid the development, and possible improvement of the UK secular variation curve

Systematic deviations to the remanent magnetisation directions of circular structural features

Dave Greenwood (

Systematic deviations to the mean magnetisation directions acquired in samples taken from both the walls and the floors of some circular archaeological features have been observed, but at present the origins of these deviations is not fully established. A study into the origin, character, and commonality of these systematic deviations is important for the credibility of archaeomagnetism as a viable dating technique; errors of only a few degrees may correspond to age differences of several decades or more, depending on the rate of change of the geomagnetic field at the time the feature acquired its remanent magnetisation.

Any suitable features will be considered for this project, and can represent any archaeological period of time.