Dowsing Archaeological Features;
An empirical study at Cressing Temple, Witham, Essex.


1. Aim and scope of project.

Click for large scale plan.Click for plan of excavations and services.

Figures 2a and 2b. Click images for legible versions.

The aim of this study is to critically examine the results of a dowsing survey made over a period of eight years at the Scheduled Monument of Cressing Temple, near Witham in Essex (TL71NE). (Figures. 2a-d.) This survey was recorded in plan form on various drawings by the dowser, Mr Colin Peal of Castle Hedingham and transferred by him and the author to OS base maps supplied by Essex County Council under licence.

Click for plan of excavated features.Click for areas of excavation.

Figures 2c and 2d. Click images for legible versions.

The readings that he recorded will be compared to excavation records made over a period between 1979-1981 by the Brain Valley Archaeological Society (BVAS) and from 1987 to 1997 by the Cressing Temple Archaeological Unit (CTAU), a satellite arm of the Essex County Council Archaeological Advisory Group. CTAU also contracted and supervised members of the Essex County Council Field Archaeological Group (FAG) who as the Field Archaeology Unit (FAU) have continued excavations in the adjoining fields to the scheduled area up to the present day.

In 1990 CTAU commissioned a remote sensing survey of areas of the garden and chapel by Bradford Geophysics and in 1995 CTAU also contracted Geo-Services International of Oxford to undertake a large scale remote sensing survey of the centre of the monument using resistivity, magnetometry and gradiometry to highlight the archaeological features.

From 1997 onwards FAU have also undertook their own remote sensing surveys and carried out excavations in Dovehouse Field adjacent to the monument. At the time of compiling these reports have not been written up. Over the years, a body of aerial photographs has also been assembled as have some personal and documentary ground shots which date back to the 1930's.

These are augmented by a meticulous photographic record of the CTAU excavations and associated events. It is against this background of comparative material that it is hoped that any correlations or trends will emerge to give validity or otherwise to Colin Peals work.

The second part of the study involves taking a cross-section of uninitiated individuals and with the most basic of direction show that dowsing is not only accurate and repeatable but that anyone can do it, with faith or not. This was done by holding an open day at the site, inviting in the public and providing a pair of rods and a questionnaire. Examination of the results from known features will provide a controlled basis for analysis and conclusions.

2. Background to dowsing techniques.

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Barry Hillman-Crouch. MSt PA, Dip FA, BSc, HND. Written 1999 Published on the web June 2005.