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Monday, 21 September 2015

Mapping the lost archaeology of the New Forest with new technology

Using lights and pin boards to identify archaeological sites found by Lidar
Lawrence Shaw, National Park Authority Heritage Mapping Officer,
using one of the exhibits, a Victorian surveying instrument
with a rotating telescope for measuring angles, called a theodolite.
Budding archaeologists of all ages can learn about the New Forest’s fascinating past at a new interactive exhibition.

With activities, videos and high-tech gadgets, the display tells the story of how new technology has helped map the lost archaeology of the New Forest.

The free exhibition runs from 18 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst and charts the work of the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme - a habitat restoration project run by the Verderers, New Forest National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The scheme has been able to identify archaeological sites previously hidden beneath the tree canopy using a remote sensing technique known as Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar). The technique involves firing harmless lasers from a light aircraft to map potential sites.  

As well as reviewing the last five years of investigation, the exhibition will allow visitors to get hands on with heritage in a number of different ways, including:

  • Using lights and pin boards to identify archaeological sites found by Lidar
  • Becoming an armchair archaeologist and identify lost and forgotten archaeological features on an interactive touch table
  • Immersing yourself in interactive virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites, including a World War Two airfield and a Roman villa
  • Seeing Victorian surveying equipment provided by Ordnance Survey which would have once been used to map the New Forest.
  • Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, New Forest National Park Authority Chairman, said: ‘This exhibition gives people a chance to learn about the role that the Higher Level Stewardship scheme has played in protecting and managing the special habitats and heritage of the Open Forest.

‘I hope the interactive activities will help visitors find out more about how the scheme has utilised powerful new technology to peel back layers of the New Forest’s past.’

Dominic May, Official Verderer said: ‘The Verderers’ HLS scheme allows us to turn the clock back, restoring the New Forest by removing previous man-made interventions such as the deep channels dug in the 19th and 20th centuries to drain the timber plantations .

‘We have funded the Lidar project in order to improve our archaeological information. In turn that knowledge allows us to be careful not to disturb any ancient monuments, both those we knew about previously, and particularly those sites which the Lidar project has discovered for the first time.’

Shedding New Light on the New Forest’s Past runs 10am to 4.30pm daily from 18 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst. Entry is free.

Find out more about Lidar by watching the film at


Check out The New Forest: Its History and Its Scenery
(Classic Reprint)
by John R. Wise


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