BUTSER ANCIENT FARM ARCHIVE 1973-2007 Archivist Christine Shaw
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Main Areas of Experiment and Research

In reality, the whole of each successive embodiment of the Ancient Farm has been as an open-air laboratory where experiments into many aspects of life, mostly before the written record, were conducted. The basic evidence is the archaeological remains: ditches and banks, postholes, pits, pottery, pollen, carbonised organic material - all those things that have survived 2000 years or more. At Butser Ancient Farm, the theories and ideas of the archaeologists who dug up the evidence have been tested by full-scale experimentation.


Since the death of Dr Peter Reynolds, his personal programmes have ended. The Earthworks programme continues, with a smaller scale survey, as circumstances offer, and the three principal sites survive. Some of the programmes from Butser are paralleled and extended at "out-stations", several of them overseas. Work at some of those outstations continues under the control of local researchers. Support to L'Esquerda in Spain continues. Many of the long-term programmes benefited from getting contrasting results in different environments. Details of these other programmes are included in the sections which follow.


Both long and short term programmes were carried out under various sites of Butser Ancient Farm. Many of the studies had the weather as one of the major input variables. In the case of, say, crop yield experiments, earthworks studies or studies on the behaviour of buildings (to name only some examples) even 20 years results may not guarantee a full picture of the consequences for survival, when weather goes to its extremes. Where such studies were carried out a Weather Station was always installed so that climate data could routinely be recorded.



Potential Yields of Prehistoric Cereals


Storage of Grain in Underground Silos


Sedimentation, Erosion and Plant Revegetation in Experimental Earthworks


Iron Age Structures: Domestic and Agricultural


Romano-British Structures: Construction of a Roman Villa


Artefact Movement Within the Plough Zone


Studies into the Discovery and Exploitation of Metals


Provenance of Carbonised Seed


Provision of a Geophysics Test Bed