Using the database

This section of the website provides an overview of software which is useful for searching this database, and examples of how to perform common searches.


In order to interrogate successfully this database access to spreadsheet software is essential. Access to radiocarbon calibration and GIS software might also be useful for some types of analysis.

Spreadsheet This database is supplied as a Microsoft Excel workbook. If you do not have access to Excel, free spreadsheet software can be obtained from Open Office, although the authors have not verified the compatibility of this database with this software.

Radiocarbon calibration software The free calibration software 'Oxcal' can be obtained from The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.

Geographic Information Software The project uses Esri's ArcView software. It is likely that suitable freeware is available to undertake basic interrogation of this database, but the project team has not explored these options.

Performing searches

The following examples demonstrate how the sort and filter options available in Excel can be used to interrogate the dataset. Please bear in mind, that this is a working database which is undergoing regular refinement - the more detailed your search request the less likely that this database will provide you with a comprehensive result. Check all results against published sources.

Analysis 1: finding all dates that match a specific criterion
For example:
- View all dates from a specific site, or material type.

Click on a cell in the top row of the spreadsheet.
Select the 'DATA' menu, then 'FILTER' then 'AUTO FILTER'.
A series of 'down-facing arrows' will appear beside each of the cells in the top row.
Click on the arrow at the top of the column you wish to search.
Select 'Custom' from the drop down menu.
Select a criterion from the left hand box, and enter a search term in the right hand box.
When you press OK, the only rows showing will be those that match your criteria.

Data can be filtered using more than one criterion (eg, all human bone and charcoal, or all dates from Nant Ffrancon and Tregaron), or by using criteria from more than one column (eg, all dates on human bone from Aveline's Hole).

NB: If searching for all occurences of a term in any of a range of fields, eg, all instances of "beaker" appearing in any of the "importance" fields, then it will be necessary to use Excel's Advanced Filter. This is not especially difficult, and advice on using this function can be found in Excel's help files.

Analysis 2: sorting the entire database into a specific order
For example:
- View dates in a chronological order.
- View all sites alphabetically.

Click on the top left cell to select the entire spreadsheet.
Select the 'DATA' menu, then 'SORT'.
Select the relevant field from the drop down menu and press OK.

Analysis 3: sorting 'filtered' data into a specific order
For example:
- View all dates from a specific site, arranged in a chronological order.
- View all dates on peat, arranged alphabetically by site name.

Filter your data as shown in 'analysis 1' so that it only shows information matching your first criterion (in the examples given above, this would either be a specific site, or all dates based on peat samples). Select your filtered data (including the header rows) and copy and paste it into a new spreadsheet. Sort your data as shown in 'analysis 2'.