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28 November 2011
Dowsing or guesswork?

Dowsing has become a highly contentious form of finding archaeological features, with vehement supporters of both sides of the argument. Whilst not intending to prove or disprove its merits or detractions, The Megalithic Portal (a website dedicated to prehistoric archaeology) has come up with a light hearted competition for dowsers.
     The competition involves 'map dowsing' using nothing more sophisticated than a printed Google Earth aerial view of an area, overlaid with a grid. The 'map dowsers' are invited to locate a) a piece of rock art and b) a quartz-striped boulder close to an actual site, either by using 'map dowsing' techniques or by simple guesswork (but noting which method has been used).
     Despite the light heartedness of the competition the prize is rather high quality, with four megalithic themed 2012 calendars up for grabs. When submitting their entry the dowsers are also invited to complete a questionnaire on how seriously they believe in this type of dowsing.
     The founder of The Megalithic Portal, Andy Burnham, admits that dowsing has created more discussion than other topics. He goes on to say "We always end up with the same stalemate. Dowsers claim they can find anything and non-dowsers doubt that because there is no documented proof". If you are thinking of entering the competition, unfortunately you are too late. Entries had to be submitted by Sunday 20th. November.

Edited from The Megalithic Portal (11 November 2011), The Guardian (15 November 2011)

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