1. Introduction

In an increasingly digital age, the public have more ways than ever of accessing information, and the use of such media to disseminate archaeological content has become widespread (Bonacchi 2012; Richardson 2013). It would now be highly unusual to find a major archaeological project that does not have a variety of associated digital outputs to encourage public engagement including social media streams, websites and blogs providing regular updates on exciting new finds and discoveries.

Underlying this trend is a long-standing commitment towards public engagement that is integrated into the very ethos of the archaeological discipline. A commitment that is perhaps in part co-related and inspired by the presence of a very large non-specialist community who have a strong desire to find out more about the latest discoveries, to see sites, and to get involved in a wide variety of ways (Aitchison and Edwards 2008; Aitchison and Rocks-Macqueen 2013; Morrison 2008). Within the UK, the rise of the 'impact agenda' across the Higher Education sector in the context of the Research Excellence Framework (Hefce 2011), and the government promotion of the 'Big Society' (Woodhouse 2014) have only sought to fuel activities that look to increase public involvement.

With the intensification and pressure in the 'desire to engage' it may be somewhat surprising that some of the most commonly used and freely available forms of digital engagement have not become more widespread within the archaeological discipline. This article focuses on one of those tools, Google Earth, and examines the use of this software in archaeology.