Paul Buckner
University of Montana
Fort Missoula Archaeological Field School

As the second session Fort Missoula Field School crewmembers prepare to begin their excavation work next week, they have been busy in the classroom learning the essential skills they will use in the field. Perhaps one of the most crucial of these is the art of finding and recording exact locations with the aid of a map and compass. Beginning in the morning, the crew discussed the intricacies of recording sites using the Legal Location and Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) methods.


Paul Buckner working alongside his excavation unit at Fort Missoula.

In the afternoon the students were familiarized with the correct use of a compass and learned how to walk transects and set bearings. The crew then took to the field and visited Fort Missoula’s original parade ground. With a period map in hand, they set out to locate the site of the Laundress’ Quarters. Using their newfound skills the crew calculated their individual pace lengths, as well as the expected bearing and distance of the Laundress’ Quarters from a currently existing landmark, also denoted on the 19th century map. After counting out their paces along the calculated bearing from the known landmark, the students were able to come up with a potential site for the location of the Laundress’ Quarters. Although much investigation remains to be done, the crew has certainly helped point future researchers in the correct direction.