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Eng.Heritage Survey Reveals More Than 1000 New Arch. Sites In N.E. Coast

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Author Topic: Eng.Heritage Survey Reveals More Than 1000 New Arch. Sites In N.E. Coast  (Read 508 times)
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« on: January 18, 2009, 08:47:30 am »

                                           English Heritage aerial survey reveals

                           more than 1000 new archaeological sites on North East coast

Jan 18 2009
by Coreena Ford,
Sunday Sun

EXPERTS usually dig deep into the ground to unearth secrets from history, as anyone who watches the Time Team documentary show on TV will know.

But members of the English Heritage aerial survey have discovered a wealth of new archaeological sites by doing just the opposite . . . taking to the skies and photographing the coastline.

That’s how mysterious rectangular markings surrounding St Cuthbert’s Hermitage, on the Farne Islands in Northumberland, were discovered.

No one knows their exact origins but it’s thought the unusual features were probably made by the lighthouse crews rather than inhabitants from medieval times.

Since March 2007, the aerial team has uncovered almost 1000 previously unrecorded sites along the North East coast, including shipwrecks, wartime defences and remains of medieval salt factories.

A team of English Heritage-funded archaeologists examined thousands of aerial photographs of the coastline, stretching from the Scottish border to Whitby in North Yorkshire and pieced together the most up-to-date record of the wealth of historical sites scattered along the coast.

The majority of the newly-recorded sites relate to the First and Second World Wars, such as the anti-aircraft battery at Ryhope in Sunderland, whose four gun emplacements and the hexagonal shape of the radar station are all clearly visible on historic aerial photography.

At Hartlepool, mounds of waste material from medieval salt production — evidence of one of Teesside’s earliest industries — were also uncovered.

The survey also revealed four ghostly wrecks on the mud flats at Amble, in Northumberland.

Their existence had previously been recorded, but the actual location of the wrecks was not known until the survey took place.

It is not known from when the wrecks date, but they are clearly visible in aerial photography dating back to the 1940s.

David MacLeod, senior investigator with English Heritage’s aerial survey team, said: “Often, it’s only by looking at a site from the air that you start to understand its size and structure.

“Historic sites along the coast are vulnerable to the effects of both natural coastal change and human activities.

“Although erosion has actually helped to reveal a number of nationally important sites along the North East coast — such as Bronze Age burial mounds at Low Hauxley in Northumberland — too often it poses a threat.

“This project will help us understand not just the history of our coastline, but also the dangers it faces now and in the future.”
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