Ancient Stones
A Guide to Standing Stones & Stone Circles in the South of Scotland.


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Methods

Site Design
Ancient Stones has been designed and is updated using Microsoft Frontpage 2000 and has been kept simple and easy to manage. The use of animation, JavaScript and other similar techniques are avoided if possible. The only script used on the site is that which manages the contact form. The site is managed using templates whenever possible to keep down the amount of work required. New pages and updates are uploaded using WS FTP LE. I do not have any fixed schedule for site updates but just upload pages as and when they are ready.

Hosting
Ancient Stones is hosted under the 1&1 Business package giving me 2.5 GB of web space, 20 GB monthly traffic and a host of other features, all for less than £10.00 a month. The package also offers the ability to run CGI scripts and PHP, and also includes 700 POP3 email addresses. To date I have had no problems at all and would strongly recommend them to anyone. See www.oneandone.co.uk for further information and up-to-date details.

Transport
Most site visits are by car, followed up by walking or using a mountain bike where locations are some distance from the nearest road.

Field Trips
On most occasions I will plan a field trip to take in around 5 or so sites, all located in the same general area or along the same route. Each field trip will usually start around 7.00am
and will see me back home by tea time.

Photography
There is nothing fancy about the photographic equipment used to record the pictures shown in Ancient Stones. My present camera is a Pentax Option S5Z fitted with a 512MB SD media card to store the images. Most images are taken using the automatic exposure setting with a resolution set to 1280 x 960 pixels, more than large enough for web use. Occasionally spot metering is used when lighting conditions are difficult. A Canon EOS 300D digital SLR is also used occasionally.

At each site I will try and take as many different pictures as I can, including close ups, distance shots and generally trying to capture the overall setting where the stones are located. On many occasions I have re-visited sites later to try and obtain better quality pictures as it is sometimes the case that on the day of the initial visit the weather is not always ideal for photography.

The final images are downloaded to the PC directly from the camera and Paint Shop Pro is used to reduce the images as required. Only on a handful of occasions is cropping used as I believe a good photographer should do all composition at the time of taking the picture. Thumbnails image are also produced the same way for the gallery pages. The only other editing that is carried out is generally to lighten the image if required.

Navigation
Although I carry a Garmin eTrex GPS receiver and a Silva compass, I generally donít use these to find a new site unless the site is proving impossible to locate without them. In the first instance I try and use the map alone to locate the site, using the map and landscape features to guide me to the stone. Only after I have been wandering around fruitlessly for an hour or so, do I resort to using the compass, followed by the eTrex.

Note Taking
At each site I use a small notebook to record general notes about the site, following my Site Visit Check List. To be honest I donít always take a lot of notes other than measurements and the like, and usually write up the visit on my return the same day, relying on memory alone.

Measurements
Not all sites are measured as I see no reason to duplicate the work already carried out by RCAHMS. Obviously with stones not recorded elsewhere measurements are required and a low-tech method is used, namely a dress-makers tape measure, one that actually came out of a Christmas cracker! Larger measurements are usually estimated by pacing out. The orientation of the sides or faces of some stones are measured by using a compass and occasionally the GPS receiver.

Research
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger and 1:25,000 Explorer Series maps are used initially to produce a list of possible sites. Then the CANMORE online database provided by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) is used to look for further information and additional sites. Books are occasionally used but are of limited use due to lack of entries specific to the area Iím interested in although some of the more well known sites are sometimes found. Internet searches are also carried out for most sites. On many occasions further stones are found during trips to known sites and a number of people who have been to the web site have also sent in details of stones new to me.

006 Standing Stones, Peebles.

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