Where on Earth Are We?

BookWhere on Earth Are We?

Where on Earth Are We?

The Role of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in Archaeological Field Survey

Historic England Guidance


June 26th, 2015





This is a revised version of the 2003 edition of this guidance document. It takes into account developments in technology that have occurred during the past decade drawing upon the practical experience of Historic England field teams. The guidance begins with a brief, non-specialist introduction to how the technology works, followed by more detailed consideration of scale and accuracy and the importance of transforming coordinates to the Ordnance Survey National Grid.

There is a wide variety of different satellite receivers available for use in survey and the guidance gives a brief overview of the main types and advises on the appropriate use of different receivers for archaeological mapping. The guidance gives advice on how Historic England field teams undertake landscape survey using this technology, aspects of which are further explored through several case studies. The publication concludes with a brief look at future developments including the growing use of smartphone technology for mapping and data collection in the field.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
1 Introduction
2 Background to how GNSS works
3 Accuracy and GNSS
3.1 Relative accuracy
3.2 Map accuracy
4 Coordinate systems, maps and grid references
4.1 WGS84 and ETRS89
4.2 The National Grid
4.3 The OS national GNSS base station network (OS Net)
5 GNSS equipment
5.1 Navigation-grade GNSS receivers
5.2 Mapping-grade GNSS receivers
5.3 Survey-grade GNSS receivers
6 Landscape survey using GNSS
6.1 Approaches to survey
6.2 Navigation-grade GNSS survey
6.3 Mapping-grade GNSS survey
6.4 Survey procedures
6.5 Process of survey
6.6 Survey-grade GNSS survey
6.7 RTK survey procedures
6.8 Process of survey
7 The Future
8 References
9 Glossary