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Rich Archaeology Revealed with Lidar

Rich Archaeology - Image Historic England

Aerial images have been used to map hundreds of archaeological sites dating from the Neolithic period to the Second World War across 192 kilometres. The project by Historic England shows the rich archaeology of how our ancestors have shaped the landscape and allows people to see the history “just below their feet”.

The photos and interactive maps show features in the landscape including a motte and bailey castle on Edburton Hill near Brighton and prehistoric enclosures on Wolstonbury Hill near Hassocks.

Tom Foxall, regional director at Historic England, said: “From the echoes of Neolithic ceremonies to the upheaval of the Second World War, these archaeological sites contribute to the unique character of the South Downs.

“They have been brought together in our new interactive map using aerial sources and archive research. Highlighting sites with a tangible link to the past can connect people to their area and foster a sense of place.

“Our connection to the land continues to this day – around 117,000 people live and work within the National Park’s boundaries with many more visitors throughout the year.”

Historic England’s aerial investigation team analysed more than 9,500 aerial photographs as well as recent airborne laser scans, known as lidar.

Lidar is a technique that uses an aircraft-mounted laser to build a 3D digital elevation model of the ground below to locate, identify and map marks in the landscape which represent the thousands of years of human activity the South Downs have seen.

The results cover a wide variety of archaeological features ranging from small chalk pits to vast field systems.

Matthew Oakey, aerial survey principal at Historic England, said: “The airborne laser scanning was particularly valuable in identifying low earthworks of the extensive prehistoric and Roman field systems that cover the South Downs.

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