Large-scale mapping of landscapes to specific site targeting
The three projects that are being presented are part of a scheme to combine evidence from two different landscape sources. The first perspective is from the air, and the second is used to support further interpretation from the first using field survey and small-scale excavation.
The first takes the words of O.G.S. Crawford seriously, when he states:
"It is the great merit of air-photographs that they reveal earthworks upon ploughed land which are invisible to the observer on the ground, or which appear to him as a confused tangle. ... From the air an orderly system is visible.' (Crawford 1928: 4).
However, in the context of Iceland there is little "ploughed land' – Iceland is a landscape covered in open pasture areas, alongside more severe land types such as lava fields, sand deserts, glaciers and the odd active volcanoe. And that half of the year there is little or no light. The combination of these contexts creates a unique situation to study the landscape. But it is the sense that is expressed by the order in the face of evidence derived from aerial sources that gives Iceland's landscape its quality - where there is an abundance of archaeological sites visible as earthworks or as vegetation marks.
Once the bird's eye view from above is employed, already known sites "make sense' and new ones are recognised that establishes patterns that helps to shape our understanding of landscape formation processes over the long-term. After which the second perspective can be used to great advantage: a targeted practice for localised survey and small-scale excavation.
The three projects that are discussed are all integrated studies, combining aerial survey and field survey, as well as small-scale excavation.
The three case studies are:
Case study 1. Mývatn, Tjörnes (Suður-Þing) and Kelduhverfi (Norður-Þing)
Case study 2. Heklarættur, Rangárvallahreppur (Rangárþing) (forthcoming)
Case study 3. Kvásker (forthcoming)