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Chance to help discover more of the Chilterns' history

Chance to help discover more of the Chilterns' history

Published by Dan Gooding at 2:05pm 12th August 2019.

Could you help discover more about the history of the Chilterns?

One of the largest archaeological surveys ever in the UK has been carried out across the landscape and volunteers are needed to interpret the results.

It's all being carried out online, with training available from experts.

Beacons of the Past - a National Lottery funded project to discover more about the Chilterns Iron Age hillforts - recently flew a bespoke LiDAR survey of the Chilterns, the first of its kind in this area and the largest high-resolution archaeological survey ever flown in the UK.  

Encompassing 1400 km2, the survey offers the potential to reveal thousands of new archaeological sites across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire.

Following the completion of the survey, the project team are asking for the public's contribution to view and interpret the results of the data gathered by the LiDAR visualisations; in many cases these will be people who may have spent decades exploring the Chilterns landscape or those who live in it, and who will bring a unique perspective to the project.

The team will offer comprehensive training and tutorials to teach LiDAR interpretative skills, allowing users to decipher the results of the data and enter the findings on an online Portal (a web-GIS and heritage asset management system).  

Project Manager Dr Wendy Morrison says:

"This will enable anyone in the world to discover new archaeological features in the Chilterns from their computer.

"Encouraging people from all walks of life to engage with a resource that is usually accessible to a handful of researchers will open up the landscape for greater understanding and appreciation, and when we appreciate and understand a place, we begin to take more active roles in caring for it."

Funded by a £695,600 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and a number of partners such as the National Trust, Chiltern Society and local authorities, Beacons of the Past is providing a real focus for community and public involvement through techniques such as remote sensing and survey, practical excavation, and research, as well as a programme of events and educational activities.

Results will be used to further engage communities with their heritage, through work in schools, with youth groups, public talks and workshops.

The new discoveries will be made available to the relevant Heritage Environment Record officers in the four counties and will also help heritage managers, archaeologists and policy makers to consider how they look after the Chilterns landscape.

Dr Ed Peveler, Landscape Heritage Officer for the Chinnor-based project, said:

"This is a fantastically exciting project, and I can't wait to see how people interact with the LiDAR data. This is a dataset which unveils so much history in our landscape, and frankly is just huge fun to play with. People are going to be finding things hidden in plain sight across their usual stomping grounds."

Stuart Hobley, Area Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

"The Chilterns is full of ancient history but there could be still much more left to discover. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project is an incredible opportunity to get involved in making new discoveries and to, potentially rewrite the history of this beautiful landscape."

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