Tracing the footprints

How do archaeologists look at landscapes?

Look out of the window.  What do you see?

Traces in the landscape above and below ground help us understand why people lived in certain places. It also helps us work out where archaeology may be found in the future! The rivers and coasts were important sources of food and provided a means of transport. The remains of buildings and boundaries can show up as ‘lumps and bumps’. Drawing or surveying these give an idea of what a site may have looked like.

Cropmark at West Mains Farm, near Falside Castle © RCAHMS (Aerial Photography Digital Collection). Licensor

The fertile plains of East Lothian are ideal for showing cropmarks of archaeological sites, which can be seen in aerial photographs. Cropmarks are caused by different growing conditions above ditches or walls, which make the crop longer or shorter. The many cropmarks show East Lothian has always been a good place to settle. Old maps showing the development of towns also help us build a picture of how the land has changed bit by bit over time.

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