Marking Out The Site

Datum point

Having cleared and levelled the site the next thing we had to do was to select a place to take all our measurements from. At this point (called the datum point) we hammered a wooden stake deep into the ground. The top of this stake was where all our heights would be taken from, hopefully ensuring that measurements done on different days would match up with each other. To make sure we didn't lose this point we also sprayed it with luminous yellow paint. Most of which seemed to end up on our hands!

Profile boards

The next job was to put up profile boards all around the site. These boards were also attached to wooden stakes and hammered deep into the ground to stop them from moving. The boards were positioned round the edge of the site in line with our proposed footings. They were all taken to the same height (above the datum point) meaning that those at the highest point of our field were almost touching the ground whereas those at the lowest point were over a meter above the ground. We used a laser level to ensure that these boards were all at the same level - by eye we were way out!

Marking with string

Having set up all the boards we then used string (pulled very taught) to mark out the centre of our trenches. Once we were absolutely sure they were in the right place (by measuring several times and also checking the diagonals) we fixed them into position by sawing a small grove into the top of the boards (at the appropriate place) and trapping the string into these groves. We then set out more strings (on each side of the centre point) to give us the edges of the trenches.

Eventually the whole site looked like a cats cradle, covered in criss-crossing string which we hoped would help us dig our trenches in the right place.


Marking the ground

One final thing to be done before we could start digging was to transfer these string lines onto the ground with the aid of our trusty yellow spray paint.

This was quite back breaking work being bent over all the time.

At the end of it we decided to straighten our backs by walking to the local pub, once there we decided to refresh our parched throats with a beer or two. Obviously these were taken for medicinal purposes only and whilst not strictly a necessary build expense, they are a great aid in preventing mutiny amongst the workers!