What it does: we are the national lead on aerial investigation and mapping and set the standards for the professional, academic and volunteer sectors. We undertake, manage and provide expert advice on programmes of aerial reconnaissance and air photo interpretation in order to discover, record, characterise and monitor archaeological sites, historic buildings, and landscapes. We use sources including historic and modern aerial photographs, satellite imagery and airborne laser scanning data (lidar) to produce archaeological maps linked to interpretations presented in national and local government geographical information systems (GIS) and textual databases. We also carry out research to create narratives exploring urban and rural change. We design and deliver specialist training including e-learning, classroom teaching and professional placements.
Research/innovation goals and objectives: to develop efficient and effective tools for discovery of archaeological monuments including new in-air technology and innovative methods for predicting where sub-surface archaeology will show as cropmarks. To develop best practice in the use of current and future sources including aerial photographs, visualisation of airborne laser scanning, sourcing and use of satellite imagery, multi-spectral imagery, and use of remote controlled-aircraft (drone) footage. To promote and develop multi-disciplinary approaches to large area (100 square km plus) assessment to promote landscape based approaches to research and management. To identify and promote work into major archaeological themes such as dating frameworks for site types or landscapes for unexcavated buried sites known from cropmarks. To develop better ways of sharing research results including developing Historic England’s digital offer by providing map-based (GIS) services to access born-digital aerial photographs, archaeological mapping and research reports.
Why it is important: there is much that we do not know about England’s historic environment. Important archaeological sites and landscapes remain hidden or are poorly understood. We need to identify and better understand this archaeological resource in order to protect it effectively. Mapping and recording from aerial photographs and lidar are proven techniques for identifying and analysing archaeological sites and landscapes, particularly over large areas. The aerial photographs, archaeological maps, reports and advice help to ensure others understand, value and care for the historic environment. Our results are shared with professionals and the public through local authorities and the Historic England Archive. Our work typically involves partnerships with government agencies, local authorities, National Parks, academics, charities or the general public. Through these partnerships and our programme of outreach and training we aim to deliver an increased awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the historic environment.
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