Apps Archaeology News

Jelly and Archaeology

“Let’s help each other”

Yesterday saw the official unveiling of Jelly, an app for smartphones which allows users to ask questions, accompanied by a photo, to their extended social networks.

Humanity is connected like never before. In fact, recent white papers have concluded that the proverbial “six degrees of separation” is now down to four because of social networking and mobile phones. It’s not hard to imagine that the true promise of a connected society is people helping each other.

Asking a question on JellyAn example could be whilst going for a walk, you spot something unusual, or are just curious about. There is no information to hand about what it is, so you snap a photo with the Jelly app and ask your connections. And their connections. The question can be passed to quite a large network.

Alerts can be enabled so that when your friends ask questions it’s possible that you could get answers back fairly quickly.

Archaeological applications could be varied and useful.

“Is this a bell barrow or a bowl barrow?”

“Does anyone recognise the decoration on this sherd?”

The possibilities are endless.

Obviously there are limits – a square format photo can only contain a limited amount of information – and it doesn’t look like hashtags have been implemented in the Jelly app yet. It would be great to follow #archaeology on Jelly to see what questions people ask. However, you can post your questions to Twitter and Facebook, and use has tags there, so all is not lost.

It may be branded a tool for the ‘lazyweb’, but knowledge in numbers is often a very good thing indeed. Jelly is certainly a service to keep an eye on.

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Archaeology Books News

New Book: Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, XI, Early Cornish Sculpture

If you are interested in inscribed stones, medieval crosses, and the many other carved wonders of Cornwall, then you will no doubt be interested to know that the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, XI, Early Cornish Sculpture by Ann Preston Jones and Elisabeth Okasha (published by OUP) is now available to buy.

The book has taken many years to compile, with each sculpture illustrated in clear black and white photography accompanied by comprehensive discussion.

The official description is as follows:

This book is part of a major series published by the British Academy.
Volume 11 surveys the county of Cornwall and provides an analytical
catalogue of its early sculpture, highlighting the particular
distinctiveness of Cornish sculpture compared to other regions.
Readers may well be astonished at the range and scale of the Cornish

Introductory chapters set the material within its topographical,
historical and archaeological context, considering it especially in
relation to its development as Cornwall, at one time an independent
Celtic kingdom, became part of the Anglo-Saxon realm. To fully
illuminate the material, the volume includes specialist contributions
on the geology of the monuments, the historical background, and the
sculpture which continued the tradition of monumental carving in
Cornwall after the Norman Conquest.

There is a full photographic record of each monument, taken for the
most part by the authors, which highlights the fact that Cornwall,
unlike some regions, has many impressive and complete monuments still
surviving. A large number of these were illustrated by A. G. Langdon
over a century ago in his seminal Old Cornish Crosses; however the
present volume includes many stones not illustrated by Langdon and
offers new interpretations and detailed photographs of others. The
monuments with early sculpture include substantial free-standing
crosses, altar stones, and some recumbent coped stones.The dating and
context of a number of potentially early fonts and some simple
cross-incised stones is also discussed.

The relationship of the Cornish sculpture to monuments in Wales,
Ireland and Western Britain is of particular interest given Cornwall’s
position as a peninsula jutting into the western seaways. In this
context, the potential role of Scandinavian influence is considered
against the absence of evidence for Scandinavian settlement in

I made a small contribution to the book through my work on the Gulval cross base which revealed images of the Four Evangelists.

The official price is £70 but Amazon already seem to be offering a discount.

Cornwall Photography

Breaking waves on Penzance Promenade


The sea was rough earlier on today, with huge waves breaking on the sea defences below Penzance Promenade. At high tide, spray was thrown ten metres or more into the air.

I managed to capture this photo on my iPhone as we sheltered from a shower by Gino’s restaurant next to the Queens Hotel. There were much bigger waves, but since I value my phone, after capturing a quick video with Vine, I opted to enjoy the waves and keep my phone dry in my pocket.


Truro Cathedral

Archaeology Cornwall News

Recent 3D Scanning in West Cornwall

A few weeks ago I gave a talk to the Cornwall Archaeological Society about 3D capture methods in archaeology, with examples of some of my recent work. It’s all work in progress, but here are some of the images shown during the lecture.

The stones were all chosen as case studies as they all contain details which can be difficult to see with the naked eye under normal lighting conditions. They include the Noti Noti stone in St Hilary, an inscribed stone and decorated crosses at Phillack, the Penzance Market Cross (left elevation) and the Cunaide Stone in Hayle.


Milestone, Penzance

Digitisation News Services

Digitisation Studio

I’ve always enjoyed digitising things – 3D scanning, 2D scanning, extracting scratchy audio from 1/4″ reel-to-reel tape, resurrecting a Betamax machine to transfer long-forgotten clips into modern archivable digital formals, turned oral history recordings on cassette into mp3, you name it. I have scanned and catalogued more photos than I can count.

Finally, I now have the space for my own digitisation studio, which I have begun to construct. It currently consists of a sturdy copy stand with LED lighting, Canon DSLR, Epson scanner, and a decent TEAC cassette deck. There is a trusty Mac sitting at the centre of it for control, capture and editing, as well as a Soundcraft mixing desk for audio input. Coming soon is a turntable (with 78rpm stylus) and an ex-studio VHS machine. On the wish list is a Betamax player.

The copy stand, as well as useful for capturing larger and more fragile items, also allows for me to have a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) rig set up for the surface capture of small artefacts. My recent FTTP (direct fibre-optic) internet connection allows for fast transfer of very large digital files quickly.

More details soon on my full capabilities.


Silver Lining


Silver lining with mares tails – something I haven’t seen for a while.

News Penzance

Something strange on the beach

I was cycling along the cycle path to the Longrock area of Penzance on Sunday, when I noticed something distinctly unusual happening on the beach.


When I got a little closer, it turned out to be a very long row of people.


The person on the right hand side of this photo was standing at a tripod, so I assume that this was part of an art project, rather than a spontaneous “line mob” on a showery Sunday afternoon.


If anyone knows anything about this, I’d love to hear about it, and see the end result. Please leave a comment if you can.

[Update] Simon Reed suggests that this was one of artist Hamish Fulton’s Communal Walks, and I reckon he’s right. Mystery solved. Thanks, Simon!

Broadband News

My Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) Installation – Part 2

On 20 September 2013 I blogged about the first stage of my Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) broadband installation. Yesterday, 15 October, the second stage of the installation took place, and I’m posting this using my new fibre connection.

The BT Openreach engineer was due to visit sometime between 8am and 1pm. Since I am up early most days, I made sure that the room where the equipment was to be installed (two boxes attached to the wall) was clear, and furniture moved out of the way. The engineer called at about 8.15am to say that he was 15 minutes away – really great to get advance notice.

To cut a long story short, he had to drill a hole through an extremely thick (90cm) solid granite wall, which he managed very well considering how difficult a task that is. He fitted the equipment to the wall where I wanted it and ran the fibre cable through the hole and outside to the Consumer Splice Point (CSP).

Here’s the CSP opened showing the run of fibre carefully coiled ready to be spliced with the short run that will go into the house:


Next, some of this spare fibre was carefully cut using a splice tool to ensure a clean, flat cut. It was then cleaned with alcohol. The other end of the cable going into the house was prepared in the same way. The engineer opened a flight case revealing the impressively named “Fusion Splicer” which uses a short burst of electricity to fuse the glass fibres together.

Here’s the fusion splicer. It uses a digital microscope to help align the fibres perfectly. You can just about make out the faint blue fibres (which are incredibly thin) on the mid and lower left of the photo:

The BT Openreach fusion splicer
The BT Openreach fusion splicer

And here’s my fibre, fused and ready to go:

One fusion-spliced fibre optic ready to go
One fusion-spliced fibre optic ready to go!

And here’s the Openreach VDSL modem and battery backup attached to the wall the other side of the CSP:

BT Openreach modem and battery backup
BT Openreach modem and battery backup

As soon as the fibre was spliced, the connection light on the VDSL modem lit up, and technically, it was online. The engineer carefully wound the excess cable back into the CSP, and the job was done. We connected up the BT HomeHub 3 and checked the connection via ethernet, which worked perfectly.

A quick speed test via the BT Wholesale Speed Test came in at 96Mbs down, and about 8Mbs up. The engineer assured me that this would increase as the connection stabilised.

He finished late morning and for the rest of the day the connection speed resolutely dropped to about 50Mbs/9Mbs wired straight in.

However, this morning the speed was a different picture:

BT Speed Test results

Success! And a lot faster than the advertised 160Mbs service that I’m paying for.

But a word of warning – as soon as you start to use wifi, watch the speeds drop away. There are so many factors that can affect your connection. I decided to remove the HomeHub from the equation and use my 2nd generation Apple Time Capsule to handle the wifi and connection via PPPoE. However, it seems that the WAN port, despite it being a gigabit port, can’t negotiate above 100Mbs (and yes, I’ve checked the cable using PPPoE directly on my laptop which revealed the speeds above). I may have to go back to the HomeHub and use the Time Capsule in bridge mode again.

Wifi and internal cabling aside, the FTTP connection was a complete success. The time I had to wait between the first and second appointments was rather long, but I suppose we’re only in the early days of the fibre rollout, and more engineers will need to be trained up.

All-in-all, my installation took about 10 hours to complete over the two days. I’d advise you to be in for the first visit, no matter what BT say! The connection is now phenomenally fast, and it’s one of those rare moments when you find yourself saying that the wait was worth it. I just uploaded an 11MB photo to Flickr in just a few seconds – this would have taken 3-4 minutes just two days ago. My network attached storage (NAS) is suddenly a lot more capable, allowing me to log in remotely to retrieve files without an agonising wait. Not to mention HD streaming. All at the same time if we want to.

If you’re thinking about ordering fibre broadband, don’t hesitate. Not long until I can remove the copper wires altogether!