Recording our excavation: photographs

Author: Rachel

We take LOTS of photos on site. We take photos of the daily comings and goings on site, of people doing things and what has been happening. We also take some very specific types of photographs. We take photographs regularly that record the site and the features within it. We take photos before we excavate, as we are excavating and when we have finished. For ‘site photos’ we use the site camera, we use scale bars in the photos and we enter all the information in the site folder where we keep all the paper records. For all the site photos we record the number of the photograph on the camera, which contexts (archaeological layers and features) are in the photo, the direction we were facing when we took the photo, the size of the scale bar, who took the photo and when it was taken. We also give the photograph a description that records what it was we were trying to capture in the photograph. All this information is now digitised in a spreadsheet that allows us to search through our photo archive for photos that show a particular feature, or were taken on a particular day or even by a particular person.

photo record
Part of the photo record
Kerb and cairn emerge.jpg
Kerbing and ring-cairn material begin to emerge on site. Image: Rachel
Cairn overview
Kerb and cairn material showing following excavation. Image: Rachel
Cairn overview 2
Kerb and cairn material showing following excavation. Image: Rachel

Above, and below, you can see a small selection of the photos from the excavation of the cist.

We also photograph all of our finds. This is part of the basic recording we have done of the finds we made during the dig. These photos also have a scale in them and the details of where the object was found that are associated with each find. This means that we have a basic record of what the various finds look like (handy as we continue to work on the project away from the island). We can use the information in the photos to trace back through the other records to learn about the context the find came out of, any other photos it might appear in and the spatial location of the find within the site grid. I will be back on island in October and I’ll be taking some more detailed images of some of the finds to help us continue to interpret them and the site.

Finds photos
A tiny selection of the finds photos from the dig

Taking all these photos can be tricky – it is always a team effort!


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