Historic England to offer virtual flights over ancient landscapes

Through virtual flights over England, a digital aerial archaeology tool allows people to uncover previously undiscovered details about local landscapes. This includes prehistoric hill forts and Roman settlements.
According to Historic England, which oversees the preservation of the country's historical environment, the virtual map looks like an enormous archaeological puzzle.

The Aerial Archaeological Map Explorer includes thousands of sites that were identified from half a million aerial photos covering more than half of the country. Additional archaeological remains were identified by lidar, an airborne laser scanning technique that creates 3D images on the Earth's surface.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England, stated that the new aerial archaeology mapping tool allows people to fly virtually over England and take in its many layers.

This will enable everyone to discover the hidden history of their local areas and what makes them unique. It is hoped that it will provide a platform for further exploration, either for research or just to satisfy curiosity.

Each site that has been mapped links to the full records of Historic England. The agency continues to map and analyze other areas of the country that are not yet covered by the Explorer tool.

These sites were discovered around 6,000 years ago. They include long barrows, flintmines, and causewayed enclosures from the Neolithic period. The 20th-century cold conflict period is the most recent.

You will also find bronze age round barsrows, iron age hill forts and Roman camps. These are all part of a field system that represents several millennia worth of activity.

These sites include a prehistoric hillfort, evidence for medieval farming, and massive first world war training camps, which housed up to 22,000 people at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

Aerial photography of the Yorkshire Dales national parks reveals remnants of settlements that date back to the prehistoric period and trace evidence of lead mine shafts from post-medieval times.

The second world war anti-invasion defenses constructed along the coast can be seen at Newhaven, East Sussex. There are many military installations along the South Coast, East Anglia, and Yorkshire, including camps, airfields and anti-tank lines.

Historic England said that the mapping allows archaeological features to be seen as part of multi-period landscapes rather than as single sites.

The National Trust also used lidar technology in Northumberland's Wallington Estate, covering 13,500 acres. This allowed for the discovery of features that were not obvious to the naked eye.

These findings will be used by the trust to decide where to plant 75,000 British-native trees in the coming months as part its climate change programme.

The trust received the estate in 1941. It contained historic farming systems, pleasure gardens, and iron age camps. The trust also discovered former woodland areas through Lidar scanning.

Mark Newman, trust's archaeologist consultant, stated that this is a significant moment in the estate's 5,000-year-old history. These discoveries will all be further investigated to ensure that no future planting plans are affected and to preserve their archaeology to allow for future research.

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