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

29. Features selected for the tests. (Figure. 44).

Location of test areas.
44. The location of the test areas.

Test 1. Dowsing for water.

The water main that runs directly across the green from the well-house to the toilet block was used for the first test. Although showing as a cropmark few people identified it by sight and many had to pass over it several times before getting a reading. This is a 2 inch main laid down in 1997 in a large construction trench originally excavated archaeologically in 1990 and gave powerful reactions to the participants. The water main was selected with this in mind as often the dowsing response is 'crimped' by initial nervousness on the part of a novice.

Test 2. Dowsing a road that can be seen.

The edge of the farmhouse drive was selected for this confidence building test which allowed the participants to correlate their reactions with the features they were detecting. Most also discovered that an electric mains cable that ran along part of the edge of the drive gave a stronger reaction than simply the drive itself.

Test 3. Dowsing a cellar.

There are two Tudor cellars known on the green. The group was split into two and directed to try to find the size and orientation of each cellar as well as recording their reactions. A corner shown by parch marks of each structure was indicated as a starting point. By discussions amongst themselves they managed to locate not only the cellar but many ancillary features thereby attached. This test was designed to encourage thinking in plan.

Test 4. Dowsing a buried wall.

A general indication of the location of a buried Tudor wall was given and the participants requested to locate and orientate it. This was not shown by crop or parch marks. A number of individuals also found the attached foundations proven in other archaeological excavations. (CT29)

Test 5. Dowsing a human being.

The participants were encouraged to dowse each other to locate their own body field which is normally at about 450mm. For some reason this was the least recorded of all the tests.


Test 6. Surveying an unknown part of the site.

The area gridded
45. The location of the gridded survey area superimposed onto a composite plot of the site.

The participants were allowed onto the gridded area (Figure. 45) and instructed to record all they could find. No system of conventions was offered in order to highlight anyone's work who may have dowsed before. Of the 62 participants only 13 recorded nothing and this was mostly due to a lack of understanding from young children or time restraints for the older people.

30. Analysis of results.

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