Warm spell reveals Shropshire's historic secrets

[gallery] Archaeologists have taken advantage of the driest spring and early summer conditions for 80 years to photograph a wide range of normally invisible sites across Shropshire from the air.

Warm spell reveals Shropshire's historic secrets

Archaeologists have taken advantage of the driest spring and early summer conditions for 80 years to photograph a wide range of normally invisible sites across Shropshire from the air.

The pictures have been taken as part of a three-year aerial archaeology project that is being carried out by the Shropshire Council's historic environment team, with funding provided by English Heritage.

Centuries of ploughing has meant that many of these sites are no longer visible on the surface.

But the drought conditions has meant that buried archaeological remains have become visible as "cropmarks".

These are created when ditches buried below the plough soil cause the overlying crop to grow taller and ripen more slowly.

Other types of marks are produced where buried hard surfaces from roads or stone walls stunt the crop and cause it to ripen faster.

Colin Richards, the council's historic environment manager, said: "To date the project team have photographed a wide variety of sites, including Bronze Age burial monuments, Iron Age farms and Roman "marching" camps, some of which have not been seen before.

Results

"The images demonstrate just how rich the county's heritage is and can help us to manage this resource by working constructively with farmers, land owners and developers."

Martin Taylor-Smith, council cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: "This aerial survey offers a highly cost-effective means of monitoring archaeological monu- ments and discovering new sites.

"The results of the project are helping Shropshire Council to work more effectively with bodies such as English Heritage and Natural England to ensure that our nationally important historic environment is managed sympathetically."

With the aid of funding from English Heritage, the historic environment team is working with leading aerial archaeologist Chris Musson and an experienced team of pilots from BJ Aviation at Welshpool Airport.

The three year project involves training two members of the historic environment team in order to ensure that the work continues in the future.

By Dave Morris

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