From Roman settlements near Rotherham in South Yorkshire to Second World War defences in Southampton in Hampshire, to secret Cold War military installations across England, for the first time, Historic England has made the results of over 30 years of aerial photograph mapping projects freely available online. Like a huge archaeological jigsaw puzzle, the map pieces together archaeological landscapes recorded during analysis of over 500,000 aerial photographs. More than half of England is covered by the virtual map.
From an article in Historic England.
The map contains thousands of archaeological sites that have been identified on aerial photographs and from imagery derived from airborne laser scanning, also known as lidar data. Lidar uses laser light to create a 3D representation of the Earth’s surface and is a newer technology that can be applied to the work of an aerial archaeologist.
The earliest sites in England that have been mapped date to around 6000 years ago and include long barrows, flint mines and causewayed enclosures of the Early Neolithic period while the most recent sites belong to the second half of the 20th century – for example, those associated with the Cold War. There are also Bronze Age round barrows, Iron Age hillforts, Roman camps, settlements, trackways and field systems which represent several millennia of activity.
The mapping allows the archaeological features to be seen not just as individual sites, but as part of complex, multi-period landscapes. Visualising the evidence in this way can help transform understanding of those landscapes, especially when studied alongside other forms of evidence – the site-based data available from local Historic Environment Records or the Heritage Gateway and historic maps.
Every site mapped has a simple description with links to the full Historic Environment records held online and for most of the areas mapped there is also a free report detailing the highlights and new discoveries encountered in each project.
The mapping work continues – not only are there areas which Historic England hasn’t analysed in detail yet, but new discoveries are still being made in places previously studied.
For the complete article on the virtual map CLICK HERE.
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