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


6. Dowsing Methodology used in this Project.

7. Type of rod.

The dowsing technique used throughout the surveys and the tests is that of the use of the rods. The rods are simply two strong pieces of wire each bent with a right angle to facilitate a grip for the hands and these are used to indicate a change in the structure of the buried soil by rotating unaided. The rods are of no special material, thickness or dimension but are light enough to be held without fatigue and short enough to be little susceptible to the wind.

Simple dowsing rods.
5. A pair of rods made from galvanised fencing wire. Heavier gauge rods like these are better for day-to-day field work because they are less susceptible to wind movement and are less fragile.

For example the authors rods (Figure. 5) are made from galvanised fencing wire of dimensions diam 3.0 x length 270 x 120 mm handle length, while the rods made for the dowsing exercise are all made from wire coat hangers to the same size of diam 2.3 x length 310 x 130mm handle length. In general the longer and lighter they are the more unwieldy they become because they give exaggerated responses to both the wind and the magnetic field they are indicating.

There are a number of companies who market dowsing equipment and offer rods that run on ball bearings and that have hollow handles to contain samples of materials (called 'witnesses') for which one may be searching. None of these are deemed necessary and a study of rod types does not constitute part of this project. Other types of dowsing indicators such as the pendulum, forked twitch, joined wires or even bare hands are likewise not considered.

The chapel and drains.
6a.. The site of the chapel marked with garden canes and delineated with ropes. This photograph, when compared with the actual site plot, shows the inaccuracies that have been made through inexperience in surveying.

All the readings were made on site with the lines of reaction being marked with common garden canes (Figures. 6a-b) before being transcribed onto paper plans. Seasonal variations in position were recognised and in some cases recorded. No great claims to accuracy were made but a resolution of +/- 1.0m was deemed reasonable. At Cressing Temple it is important to note that the archaeological deposits are very close to the surface, being just under the turf within the monument or beneath the subsoil in the fields. No recorded feature was buried beyond 1.0m deep. Map (or remote) dowsing does not constitute part of this study.

Labelled up canes for site work.
6b. Common garden canes suitably marked are used to demarcate the responses found.

The findings made by Colin Peal are his own. He has however invited other members of his family, most notably his brother and niece to share in his surveys and ratify his observations.

8. Using the rods.


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