Project to map ancient landscape of England

Date:

Share post:

The School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford is to compile a map of prehistoric England for the first time. 

The ancient burial ground, village well or Roman villa under your home will be revealed in a ground breaking project to show how the landscape of England has changed over thousands of years [Credit: GEOFF PUGH]

The ‘Portal to the Past’ project will allow people to look online to discover the history of their own area over 3,500 years, from the Bronze Age in 1500BC to the Domesday Book in 1086. 

Professor Chris Gosden, who is leading the project, said local history is one of the most popular internet searches after family ancestors. 

However at the moment the parish records will only show up to around 1,000 years ago. 

The five year project, funded by £1.8 million from the European Research Council, will bring together all the available data into a digital archive to create maps and as much information as possible about prehistoric England. 

Prof Gosden said most modern day parishes are based on how the land was set out in Roman estates or even before then by peasant communities. 

He said there could be metal works, ancient field systems, peasant huts, a Roman villa or even human bodies under modern buildings. 

“We tend to look at surface of the world we live in but as soon as you look beneath the surface there will be a wealth of ancient features,” he said. 

Most of the data will be from English Heritage aerial photographs showing ancient sites of interest. There is also £100 million spent every year by developers carrying out archaeological research on sites before building work begins and private research by museums and individuals. 

Material will also be drawn from county archives, databases of ancient coins, and the Portable Antiquity Scheme (which records the archaeological finds made by metal detectors). Oxford researchers will work with the British Museum, the Archaeology Data Service and local history experts with a good knowledge of the period. 

Prof Gosden said bringing all the information about ancient England into one website will reveal where the landscape has developed and indeed, stayed the same. 

Access to maps and databases on artefacts may also help budding archaeologists or even treasure hunters to find more. 

“England is extraordinary in the level of potential information about the ancient landscape,” he said. 

“We hope this project will provide an in-depth analysis of the whole of England, so we can glean new insights into how the landscape has changed and developed. We want to discover what this huge database of information on ancient sites can reveal about England at a national level. Until now we have had fragments of information about landscape use during this period but this project allows us to form a bigger picture of overall patterns and regional variations within England.”  

Author: Louise Gray | Source: The Telegraph/UK [August 02, 2011]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

How comets are born

Detailed analysis of data collected by Rosetta show that comets are the ancient leftovers of early Solar System...

Dawn spacecraft reveals complexities of ancient asteroidal world

New findings from NASA's Dawn spacecraft lay the groundwork for the first geological overview of asteroid (4)Vesta and...

Ancient Australia ‘deliberately’ settled

Prehistoric Australia was settled by thousands, not just a handful, of humans, suggesting deliberate rather than accidental colonisation...

The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate – or is it?

Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the...

Researchers create functioning synapse using carbon nanotubes

Engineering researchers at USC Viterbi have made a significant breakthrough in the use of nanotechnologies for the construction...

Historic Hadrian’s villa ‘at risk of collapse’

Lack of money mean parts of Roman emperor Hadrian's villa have had to be closed off to tourists...

13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from across three continents examined

Most of North America's megafauna -- mastodons, short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and American camels and...

Farming rice in India much older than thought

Thought to have arrived from China in 2000 BC, latest research shows sustainable domesticated rice agriculture in India...