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History Of Coast Revealed From Air

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« on: January 08, 2009, 09:08:30 am »


                                                         History of coast revealed from air

Jan 8 2009
by Tony Henderson,
The Journal
SIFTING through 20,000 aerial photographs has revealed almost 1,000 new archaeological sites resulting from 10,000 years of human activity along the North East coast.

The sites range from Iron Age hillforts and shipwrecks to world war defences and the remains of medieval salt works.

A team of English Heritage-funded archaeologists examined the photographs, many of which were taken in the 1940s by the RAF, which systematically recorded the country for military purposes.

The pictures show historic structures, cropmarks and earthmarks which indicate what activity was taking place at the sites.

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

Four new anti-aircraft sites at Blyth in Northumberland were also revealed, as well as many examples of coastal practice bombing ranges, pill box sites, barbed wire obstacles, gun pits and barrage balloon moorings which were part of wartime coastal defences.

Two coastal Iron Age hillforts were identified at Scremerston near Berwick and on Fenham Hill in Northumberland.

At Hartlepool, mounds of waste material from medieval salt production were uncovered.

The survey also revealed four wrecks on mudflats at Amble in Northumberland.

Although their existence had previously been recorded, the actual location of the wrecks was not known until the English Heritage survey took place.

It is not known from when the wrecks date, but Dr Clive Waddington, from Gateshead-based Archaeological Research Services, which carried out the survey, said: “Local folklore varies from the view that they are the last of a whaling fleet to wrecked colliers but they have never been investigated.”

A pattern of rectangular features around the medieval St Cuthbert’s hermitage, on the Farne Islands, were identified although their exact origins are not known. An alignment of pits which divided up land in the Iron Age was also seen at Lamberton in Northumberland.

Dr Waddington said: “It represents an intensification of land use as the population increases, with people saying ‘this is my land and that is yours, and we will grow crops here and have pasture there.’”

The survey is part of a developing strategy of coastal management as erosion of the coastline is likely to increase through climate change and sea level rises. 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 size and structure.

“Historic sites along the coast are vulnerable to the effects of natural coastal change and human activities. Although erosion has 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.”

Dr Waddington said: “We’ve always known that the North East coastline is rich in archaeological sites. However, we were really surprised not just at the number of new sites we found, but also the range and diversity. This survey has given us evidence for human activity in the region from prehistoric times right through to the modern day and helped us build up a much better picture of what activities have taken place along our coast over the last 10,000 years.”

As part of the project, Dr Waddington’s team is now working with Durham University to feed the results into a computer-generated map, which will show not just the archaeological sites along the coastline, but also Ordinance Survey information and geological data to give a complete picture of the area.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2009, 09:10:05 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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