CIfA 2017 Newcastle 21st April

CIfA 2017 Newcastle 21st April

I was kindly invited to present at a CPD session on introducing Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry to beginners at this years CIfA Conference, by the Graphic Archaeology Group. It was a great opportunity to network, catch up with colleagues and hear about exciting new research using the technique, plus all of the advice and tips for using SFM were valuable not just to beginners but to anyone who’s using the method for recording archaeology and heritage! I shared my learning experiences from my time with Historic England, in addition to covering some of the interesting findings we made in my research reports (click here for link) and also gave a brief sneak preview of my PhD plan.

The session on managing World Heritage was also particularly insightful, as the three wonderful brochs I’m researching are all on the UK’s tentative WHS list!

CIfA 2017 1
Sharing research on recording Saxon crosses. Photo: Paul Bryan

Into the deep… underground explorations at Cresswell Crags and Grime’s Graves

Into the deep…  underground explorations at Cresswell Crags and Grime’s Graves

Over Easter I had the chance to go on some excursions away from PhD work, which were fascinating nonetheless…

Cresswell Crags

I went to see the oldest cave art in Britain at Cresswell Crags, with a guided tour around Church Hole cave, where a series of different carvings, ranging from hunted animal species to more enigmatic geometric shapes, were carved around 13,000 BP. They were only discovered in 2003.

Cresswell ibis
To the left, a naturally-created curve on the cave ceiling has been modified by carving to look like a long-necked bird, possibly an ibis. If you look at the photo upside down, you can clearly make out its long curved beak, eye and neck.
Cresswell horse
“The Ochre Horse” is an anatomically correct carving, and was found in Robin Hood’s Cave. The meaning of the horizontal lines etched to the left of the horse is unknown.

The museum also displays some fantastically preserved portable art – tiny, detailed carvings of a horse on a piece of bone, coloured with ochre (above), and strange bird-like shapes. There’s also many Ice Age artefacts and ecofacts (see top image for me meeting a hyena skull!)

The limestone gorge setting of the caves is very picturesque too!

Grime’s Graves

Seeing Grime’s Graves from afar is a very peculiar experience. Walking up the path to the site, ahead you see a large grassy field is pock-marked by deep circular craters all over! Walking between the edges of them, it’s certainly not your everyday landscape – I’ve never seen anything like it before. These are the remains of infilled prehistoric mine shafts. During the Neolithic period, this area was a source of high-quality flint – important as a material for different tools. Using antler picks and bone shovels, amazingly people dug more than 30 feet underground to retrieve the flint, and it’s possible to see their narrow mine shafts.

Grimes mine2
Neolithic flint mining at Grime’s Graves. Note the support column for the ceiling!


Grimes mine1
Duck for cover – it’s very cramped in the mine shafts!

Much more information about the site is available at