Archaeology must move forward with technology

Archaeology plays a vital role in the construction industry and one firm in particular is challenging some old school perceptions

Headland Archaeology is working tirelessly to improve efficiencies by investing in advancing technologies. Tim Holden, managing director at Headland Archaeology, explains.

Archaeologists focus is to record features and findings, preserving them by record before they are destroyed for ever. Traditionally this has taken the form of drawings, written descriptions and photographs, which is time consuming and sadly at times not as accurate as we would like.

As time moves on, industry is majorly benefitting from advancements in technology, and archaeology is no exception.

We have a proactive R&D department at Headland whose sole aim is to improve efficiency through the use of technology. Clients, now more than ever, are focused on protecting their bottom line. It’s therefore vitally important for us to enhance our service offering to ensure we can meet their financial limitations and save them both time and money.

We have had a digital survey system in place for many years but due to recent technical developments we are beginning to use these in conjunction with photogrammetry to produce fully dimensioned 3D digital models.

This technique works really well across a range of features including underground archaeology and upstanding features such as standing walls and even whole buildings.

The technique requires us to take numerous digital photos from various positions and angles, including a bird’s eye view. The photogrammetry software then combines all the various images and effectively creates a 3D photograph which can be rotated and interrogated.

This becomes the primary record of many excavated features with sections, elevations and plans all being produced to millimetre levels of accuracy not previously possible.

There is still the traditional element where publications will require line-drawings, which can be prepared quickly and accurately using computer software, but this technique really comes into its own when used within online publications, which are becoming increasingly popular.

Archaeologists and clients can use the images to boost online presentations, bringing the excavation to life.

We have spent time researching how this technology can add to the record and how we can save time producing the detailed, and now largely redundant, pencil and tracing paper drawings.

Our technical team are continuingly finding new ways to adapt these methods and we have undertaken a rolling training programme to ensure all our strong team, across our office network, are trained to use this technology.

Clients, particularly architects, have been impressed with this new method, particularly as an alternative to standard survey and expensive laser scans and the feedback has been really encouraging.

Our adoption of photogrammetry for everyday on-site recording also allows us to effectively contribute to any Building Information Modelling (BIM). We can produce low-cost scanning data from our monitoring work, which can be fed into the BIM project to inform decisions on construction plans down the line.

For example, we could provide a 3D model of archaeological deposits which could impact the placement of services, foundations and temporary enabling works on site.

We are encouraged by the improvement in our service thanks to adopting the right technology and it’s important that archaeologists are investing in new techniques and methods to ensure they are not living up to the dinosaur stereotype.

Your News

If you've got a story that would be of interest to Builder & Engineer readers, send us an email


2017-05-31 13:33

The rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) will rise by two per cent on June 1 to 12 per cent on all non-exempt transactions. Martin Bennison, managing director at construction finance firm Ultimate Finance, explains what this means for UK construction companies.

2017-05-25 08:41

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is growing in popularity and is now mandatory for centrally funded public-sector projects. Experts and the curious are gathering more and more frequently at dedicated congresses, exhibitions and workshops. Many people are now asking: Where does the UK stand on the issue of BIM and the digitisation of the construction industry?

2017-05-10 10:47

Opening site doors to more females is vital to plugging the construction skills gap, reports Claire Cameron

THE construction industry continues to be plagued by a well-documented skills gap with some suggesting the shortage could get worse before it gets better.

2017-05-08 14:27

If you work on a building site, are self-employed or have a zero-hours contract, you might be surprised to know you work in the ”gig economy”. This is the economy characterised by temporary work and irregular hours, pay and working conditions.

2017-03-29 10:31

Jeremy Gould, VP sales Europe, TomTom Telematics, discusses how technological developments in vehicle telematics have opened up new workflow management possibilities for the construction industry

2017-03-21 09:31

With the demand of oil increasing, it’s estimated that the Earth will reach its full capacity for oil consumption at some point within the next 20 years. This is despite the production of oil decreasing, and the construction industry is no exception to this, reports Niftylift.

2017-03-17 10:55

With construction firms leading the way in drone technology, Claire Cameron takes a closer look at how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used onsite

2017-03-07 16:20

While the physical safety of workers is prioritised on construction sites, mental health is often overlooked, reports Claire Cameron

Free E-newsletter Sign-Up

Sign up for our free e-newsletter

Looking for a company or service?