HAHG Lecture: Beacons of the Past and LiDAR

Dr Ed Peveler of the Chilterns Conservation Board spoke to the Henley Archaeological & Historical Group on 6 April about the contribution of LiDAR to understanding the archaeological landscape of the Chilterns.

LiDAR uses an aircraft-mounted laser to detect small variations in ground level and thereby to reveal archaeological features such as mounds, banks and ditches. One very important feature of this technique is that it can ‘see through’ tree cover to the ground beneath. This is particularly useful in the Chilterns where 21% of the area is woodland – about twice that for England as a whole. About half the Chilterns woodland is ‘ancient’, or older than 1600; this means that archaeology has been generally been undisturbed since the mediaeval period.

The technique was used to identify a Roman villa, a romano-Celtic temple and WWI training trenches in Berkhamsted golf course, and a previously unknown Iron Age fort in Buckinghamshire (pictured). Closer to Henley, the Iron Age forts of Medmenham and Danesfield  are clearly visible, as are the Grim’s Ditch at Mongewell and pre-mediaeval fields in Harpsden Wood.

Everyone is welcome to join in interpreting the LiDAR images from the project. If you would like to help, just register at www.chilternsbeacons.org.

The next full talk will be given on 4th May 2021 at 7.45pm by HAHG’s Ruth Gibson, on the dating of Henley’s buildings.