Back to Fieldwork
Field Walking                                                              

The purpose of field walking is to look for fragments of pottery, brought up by ploughing, which may provide an indication of past activity. It is often carried out in conjunction with metal detection.  See also Field Walking Reports.

As the words suggest, it
 involves walking across fields. The best time is just after the field has been ploughed, harrowed and sown.  New soil has been brought to the surface by the plough and broken up by the harrowing.

To have perfect conditions you need to walk just after a shower of rain which wash
es dust off any pottery sherds and really makes flint shine.  But with too much rain it is impossible to walk without damaging the emerging crop.  We usually compromise. We can walk when the crop is just showing but will damage it once it is several inches high.

We therefore do most of our field walking in the late summer and early autumn when the above conditions present themselves. We have field walked in Great Bowden and over the border in Market Harborough.
You walk steadily across the field at right angles to the field edge.  This is called your traverse and we usually have a marker to walk towards on the opposite side of the field.  Keeping your eyes scanning across about one metre on each side you pick up and bag all pottery, glass, worked flint and anything else that has been created by and deposited by man.  The traverse is divided into equal sections called stints. You change to a new plastic bag at the end of each stint and make sure the bags are all clearly marked with the correct traverse and the stint.

Once all the walkers have reached the far side of the field the group moves along to make the return journey along another set of traverses.  And so it continues until the whole field has been walked. Finds are sorted, identified, cleaned and marked with the field code, traverse and stint numbers so that their exact find location is pinpointed.  Clusters of material from the same period can indicate an area of habitation in the past.  A widely spaced scatter indicates material spread as manure from the midden or rubbish tip into which broken pot and other rubbish has been thrown.

All members are expected to follow the group’s code of conduct on private land and our health and safety guidelines.