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Rapid Archaeology Supported by Airborne Lidar

Rapid Archaeology Relies on Airborne Lidar

Rapid Archaeology Relies on Airborne Lidar

Archaeologists in Scotland, using what some are referring to as rapid archaeology have concluded a cutting-edge project which has revealed around 1,000 previously unknown sites on the Isle of Arran.

From an article in Ancient Origins by Ashely Cowie.

There is an island off the coast of Scotland which contains some of northern Europe’s most spectacular standing stones, megalithic tombs, and ruins of ancient farming communities going back around 6,000 years. I am not talking about Orkney or Shetland but another magical island only a short ferry crossing from Glasgow on Scotland’s west coast, which according to an Island Review article is more famous for its moors and mountains, arts and crafts, beer and whisky, than for its glorious prehistoric archaeology.

I am of course are speaking about the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde where archaeologists from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) recently flew airborne laser scanning (lidar) devices over the land surface to generate a 3D image of prehistoric settlements, medieval farmsteads, and even a Neolithic monument, which the BBC called an “exceptionally rare find.”

The lidar data is available from the Scottish Government Remote Sensing Portal and the survey results are available to view on Canmore – Scotland’s National Record of the Historic Environment. It was the largest survey of its type that has ever been conducted.

Dave Cowley, Rapid Archaeological Mapping Manager at Historic Environment Scotland ( HES) said it has shown scientists that there are “double” the number of ancient monuments on the Isle of Arran than they had previously known about and Scottish heritage leaders say “tens of thousands” of further sites might be found using the scanning technology.

Cowley also told reporters that the new 3D technology allowed for a “rapid” archaeological survey conducted over weeks rather than months or years, and it also allowed the discovery of sites that might even have been impossible to find. Among the structures identified from the air are medieval and post-medieval shielings (circular stone structures which sheltered sheep from winds), which detail how upland areas were used by shepherds.

For the complete article click here.

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