A glimpse of the past through the trees Many forest sites contain valuable historical remains. Louise Alexander ﬁnds out how best to reconcile the needs of land managers and archaeologists.
thRouGhout all forestry operations we must be fully aware of all the constraints present on a site and also the potential for new discoveries. At Galbraith, we believe that creating relationships with surveyors is an important part of a land manager’s role and over the past year we have been working closely with AOC Archaeology to identify and record signiﬁcant archaeological features within our clients’ woodlands. Here, AOC’s Operations Manager Mary Peteranna explains the importance of such relationships for both our forestry team and their clients. how important is a pre-planning consultation in relation to new woodland planting? Personally, I think the best starting point is to have a good relationship with an archaeological or heritage consultant – someone you can trust and get in touch with for initial guidance. Doing this early on in the process is always better in the long run. What they should do is help you manage the risk ahead of time, so that you and your client are fully aware of the potential ﬁnancial and time costs for surveys and additional work that may arise. The sooner you ask the question “do I need an archaeologist?”, the more advance warning you have to plan for the risk of heritage work. Although archaeology itself can involve a number of unknowns, it’s more manageable when considered at an early stage. We like to advise our clients to get in touch as soon as possible, and we are always free to discuss a site or programme and provide some initial feedback at no cost. how can good woodland design impact or beneﬁt archaeological sites? A lot of the archaeological landscapes today are almost ‘false’ in the sense that the landscape of today is very much diﬀerent than it was during various periods in prehistory. For example, much of Scotland was covered with native woodland during the Mesolithic period, some 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Some landscapes that we view today as liminal and bare thousands of years ago contained areas with extensive settlement of active and growing communities whose remains only survive today as archaeological sites. So it’s important to think practically about how new woodland design will aﬀect the setting of an archaeological landscape. Some sites, such as chambered cairns, burial monuments, were built as monumental structures, to be seen across a landscape. Groups of prehistoric roundhouses and post-medieval farmsteads obviously formed communities of settlement. By taking the time to consider the archaeological setting, woodland design can enhance the visibility of signiﬁcant monuments,
and improve the intervisibility of monuments that are inter-related. By leaving enough space between trees within a design (like in an open native woodland scheme), which ensures that buﬀers around sites are made to prevent damage, you can still plant within groups of archaeological sites and actually enhance their setting. We recommend buﬀers of 20m, 10m and 5m depending upon the site type, which is a guide to help prevent unintended damage to archaeological sites. The beneﬁt of keeping the ground around archaeology is also important to note here. We’ve walked over so much ground that has fallen rank due to lack of management. When this happens, as ground conditions worsen, so does the condition of the archaeology. how can foresters better manage these sites? As with most things, I would say that early design planning and communication with contractors is key. How they are managed is also of great importance. By planning ahead, you can ﬁgure out what will be the easiest way to incorporate the archaeological recommendations into a programme. The worse situation is waiting to get the information after planting or groundworks has started. The full team must know where sites are located and what the expectations are for management. I think that one eﬀective way is education – whether in the form of an illustrated talk or an onsite survey with the supervisor to locate sites or a toolbox talk – all of these can help your team understand what to look for. Letting your contractors know when you plan to start works such as demarcation or monitoring needs to be done. While we understand that work schedules change, we can’t help if we don’t know this. This comes into play when thinking of demarcation, setting the boundaries for the site. I hate getting called out too early to demarcate sites – in this wild Scottish weather, our site markers don’t last long and often end up polluting the environment if done too early and that’s no good for the ecology or ﬁeld staﬀ. If works are well managed, we should never have situations where rescue excavation is needed. Usually this occurs because of poor communication as most of the time, managers will have the necessary archaeological survey done, but the information will not be passed on to contractors. This can have a cost impact for excavation and post-excavation requirements. We prefer to take a practical approach and work with managers and contractors. So if something just isn’t working, we should look at the options and ﬁgure out what can be done. Working with experienced woodland managers, such as those at Galbraith, makes our job as archaeologists much easier. Managing all aspects
Page 6 | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | galbraithgroup.com
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