The bulletin will support a range of other MARS publications, such as journal articles, press releases and other publicity material, envisaged throughout the life of MARS.
MARS is a nationwide survey of the survival and decay of England's archaeological heritage over the last 50 years. It has long been recognised as a crucial step in developing approaches to management of the archaeological resource. In summary, quantified results from MARS will provide the profession and wider public with baseline information about the state of the resource and the effect of impacts, such as land use, on it.
Although surveys on the impact of land uses such as agriculture are well documented, they only present a localised, often judgmental view of destructive practices. For the first time, MARS will provide a national picture, based on a representative sample, here 5% and in an objective manner. This information can be used to target strategic and lower level resources and will be a tremendously valuable tool in supporting archaeological elements of land management.
MARS is being carried out by Bournemouth University, under the direction of Professor Timothy Darvill, Project Director and Andrew Fulton, Project Manager, and has been commissioned by English Heritage. The work is being undertaken in association with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. A steering group drawn from the sponsoring organisation and other key participating parties is overseeing and monitoring the programme. However, throughout the work great reliance is placed on assistance and support from local sites and Monuments Records (county and district), and from farmers, landowners and land agents whose monuments will be visited as part of the field survey.
The field work and other data collection activities are expected to be completed by January 1996, the overall programme by mid Spring of 1997.
There are three main aims to the Project:
MARS arose out of a need to understand and quantify the processes affecting the state of England's archaeological monuments.
There will be three main strands to the study. First is the quantification of the state of the resource in c.1995 through a national programme of field checking. Second, is the quantification of the changing state of the resource since 1940 through the examination and analysis of available aerial photographs. Third, is the researching of a series of case studies relating to defined classes of monument and tracts of distinctive countryside.
Overall, MARS will examine over 25 variables relating to the archaeological resource. Some of these will be considered and described in future issues of the Chronicle, here attention is directed to the approach that has been developed to cope with the two most difficult variables: "survival" and "decay".
Survival is taken as a point-in-time measure of the prevailing state or condition of a monument relative to some former state; a reflection of the cumulative effects of all the natural and man-induced processes that have come to bear on the monument. Ideally, survival should be measured with reference to the original state of the monument, but in practical terms it is almost impossible to determine the original state of all but a few particularly well-recorded and in general fairly recent monuments. Accordingly, it is necessary to estimate or project the original or greatest recorded extant. Rather easier is the measurement of the area of the monument and the height / thickness of deposits that remain. These measurements can be made for any point in time if the information is available or can be seen.
From these measurements it is possible to quantify survival in two ways.
Area loss is quantified as the percentage area loss (PAL) calculated as:
A1 - A1 PHL = ------- X 100 A1
Vertical survival is quantified as the percentage height loss (PHL) calculated as:
H1 - H1 PHL = ------- X 100 H1
Alongside these measurements it is proposed to use a more general appraisal of gross survival. This can be estimated as the percentage of the volume of monument lost between the projected original extent and the point in time for which the gross survival estimate is being made. This is known as the percentage volume survival (PVS). Gauging the PVS means taking account of the full intricacies of the shape and form of the monument under scrutiny, but because of these great intricacies there is no easy formula which models or describes such changes. However, the human mind is quite good at making general estimates of such changes, at least in terms of broad categories. Thus visual observations at the time of field checking, and visual analysis of aerial photographs and other sources for earlier data collection windows will give a reasonable general impression.
Decay is a through-time measure of changes to the survival of a monument and elements of it. The archaeological record is a product of human activities. Inevitably, individual parts of the record for example earthworks, timber buildings, bone needles or ironwork - begin to decay from the moment of deposition. The rate at which decay occurs depends upon a range of factors. If decay is regarded as a continuous process then it can be measured in terms of the degree of change between one point in time and another. The time period over which the decay process is measured is suggested here as 10 years, this being a realistic interval during which even fairly slight changes in survival can be observed. Viewed graphically, decay is measured in terms of the declination of that part of a decay curve which lies within the purview of the time unit under scrutiny.
Decay is thus measured as a decade factor (DDF) using the following simple formula in which PVS1 is the percentage volume survival as the beginning of the decade block under review and PVS2 is the percentage column survival at the end of the block.
DDF = PVS1 - PVS2
MARS is a considerable undertaking and the first study of its kind. In total, ten main phases can be identified;
The current programme has been running for about 8 months. The release of this Chronicle coincides with the end of the "Decision Phase" and the start of the "Set-up Phase". Recruitment for the main posts on the project will take in June 1994, with appointments expected in July and August. In the meantime, Andrew Fulton and Mark Bell are continuing to develop and test the computing side, set up the management and quality control systems, and put in place the range of equipment and facilities that will be required once the fieldwork element gates underway.
At its peak, there will be 30 people working on MARS! The work has been divided between four groups, forming the four main elements to MARS.
The MARS Archive will be of immense value at county, regional and national level, in terms of setting down factual and representative information about the state of the resource now, the real effect of impacts on monuments, and where the resource is likely to be in years to come. The information should be seen as being fundamental to the archaeological elements of what in its widest context can be termed "land management".
Mr Andrew Fulton, Project Manager
Department of Conservation Sciences
Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset. BH12 5BB
Tel: (01202) 595430 Fax: (01202) 595255