Shedding new light on our villages

Our main aim in the Ancient Landscapes project is to use the LIDAR survey to reveal very early landscapes, some of it consisting of features dating from around 1000BC. But we are beginning to get detail of more recent patterns, in particular indications of settlements that have shrunken in size or changed shape.

Winsley Church Farm, LIDAR data

Click on the image to see a larger version.

This situation occurs around a number of present-day farms, suggesting that the current farm buildings (many of them listed) are the remains of larger settlements – hamlets of Medieval or even Late Saxon date. An intriguing example is Church Farm at Winsley, once an integral part of the village but now cut off by the Winsley Bypass. On the LIDAR image, a series of small square enclosures can be seen running along the line of the bypass to the west (left) of the farm. These squares are too small to be prehistoric or Roman fields, and of course farming in the Middle Ages consisted of countless strips located in the ‘open field’ system surrounding each village.

The squares are most likely to be ‘closes’, small enclosures forming much of the settlement in which houses, barns and orchards were located. Theses closes would have stone walls, and the LIDAR scan is picking up the spread remains of the walls, now just a few inches high. So it looks if Winsley once extended in this direction, perhaps suggesting it was quite large at some point in the Middle Ages. Economic pressure or the plague brought havoc to many such places.

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 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

If you’re not sure what you could do to help, read our How To Get Involved blog post.

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 throughout the year, so look out for announcements here.

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