Introduction to the Project

Ancient Landscapes of the Bradford Hundred is a new Museum project for 2013, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We will be studying and recording traces of the prehistoric and Romano-British landscape over an area of 12 square km stretching from the town towards Winsley and Monkton Farleigh.

Why did we choose this area to survey?

From 2000 to 2003 the excavation of a Roman villa at St Laurence School created huge local interest. Much less known was the discovery in 1969 of the buried remains of an Iron Age hillfort no distance from the villa. These two sites spanning 700BC to around AD400 stand on high ground overlooking the town. Aerial photographs reveal that the fields farmed from these early communities spread west across the limestone plateau and down the valley sides towards the River Avon.

This is the archaeological background to the Saxon and Medieval town which then developed and at present it is an unexplored yet important element of our local history.

Undertaking the survey

In order to map evidence of this ancient landscape, we have commissioned a LIDAR survey. This airborne survey technique will map traces of ancient features in the arable land but also detect well-preseved entities which fieldwork has detected in wooded areas and are very difficult to survey. The valley sides – where obscured by woodland – also contain the remains of extensive quarrying, believed in part to date from the Roman period. The LIDAR should also be able to reveal these features.

Processing the data

The LIDAR survey will provide us with huge amounts of information and an awful lot to digest.  We will then then use historic aerial photographs to supplement this data, plus some ‘ground truthing’ (checking out the landscape from the ground, rather than the air, on foot).

We’ll be plotting the findings using GIS (Geographic Information System) to produce accurate maps of the area showing the features we have found.

What are we expecting to find?

We are fully expecting to discover at least one new Roman villa!  Other than that, we hope to gain a new insight into features of the geology and natural history of the area, as well as of the archaeology and historical land use.

Get involved!

There are many ways to get involved with the project: looking at aerial photographs, field walking, helping to plot the findings on maps, to name but a few.  For those interested in helping with the project, we will also be running training sessions on reading aerial photographs, identifying earthworks, and other skills.

If you are interested in getting involved with this exciting project, please contact Roy Canham on 01225 866748 or at roycanham@btinternet.com.

If you aren’t able to help, but you want to keep up to date, then please follow our blog.  We’ll be holding public talks and other events later in the year, so look out for announcements here.

To view more blog posts, visit the blog list page.

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