Mapping an archaeological site: Interpreting portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) soil analysis at Boroughgate, Skelton, UK

Rhys Williams, David Errickson, Gillian Taylor

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Integrating chemical soil analysis with visual inspection of an archaeological excavation may enhance our knowledge of anthropogenic activities from past populations. Elemental distribution of excavated soil from a medieval longhouse at Boroughgate, Skelton, UK was investigated. Soil was extracted from the surface of a longhouse and nearby ditch, analysed using portable X-Ray fluorescence (pXRF), and data were processed into elemental heat maps. The distribution and archaeological associations of magnesium, aluminium, phosphorus, sulphur, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and zinc were assessed. Elemental concentrations were combined to produce a simplified summary that aided the interpretation of the site, including the delimitation of internal and external zones, clean and refuse zones, and potential animal occupation or waste areas. The application of pXRF was successful at visualising elemental distribution of an excavation to explore the anthropogenic associations through interpretation heat maps.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 103109
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many thanks to Robin Daniels, Janice Adams and the volunteer excavation team with Tees Archaeology, to the Skelton Medieval Boroughgate Excavation Project and the Skelton Townscape Heritage Scheme. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments that helped to improve and clarify this manuscript. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


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