28 Apr 2008

Aerial survey to include Randwick area

I came across 'The Cotswold Lion' - a free newspaper from the Cotswolds AONB (a Cotswold Lion is a sheep!) - it gives some useful info about the area and various projects - it also had an update on the lidar project (see previous blog on this - click here and scroll down)...

Photo: earlier photo comparing lidar and google on computer in Randwick

....this is lidar is a very exciting project and I was hoping action could be taken to include Randwick - things looked pretty hopeless when we learnt about the sums of money needed to raise in a short time - however I heard last week that the project has gone ahead and includes parts of our locality - anyhow read on to learn more...

Unveiling Mysteries of ancient landscape

- taken from 'The Cotswold Lion' newspaper (free at various points incl Stroud library).

A LIGHT plane with some sophisticated survey equipment on board has taken to the sky to unearth ancient secrets that lie beneath the beech woods covering a large swathe of the Cotswolds AONB. Airborne laser technology has been harnessed to produce images that, with pinpoint accuracy, will ‘draw’ a map of the archaeological features on the surface of the Cotswold Escarpment over an area stretching from Leckhampton Hill in the north to Stroud in the south.

The Cranham LiDAR Survey is being undertaken in order to broaden the understanding and knowledge of historical features previously hidden beneath the dense canopy of trees that covers much of the Escarpment. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) uses a scanning radar range finder that bypasses obstructions like foliage to measure the height of the ground surface and other features in large areas of landscape with a resolution and accuracy that provides highly detailed and accurate models of the land surface.

The aerial survey, carried out by specialists Precision Terrain Surveys, was originally commissioned by Cranham Local History Society to chart the Escarpment in their area. However, the scope of the project widened beyond anyone’s expectation as other groups like Crickley Hill Archaeological Trust, Leckhampton Local History Society, Cotteswold Naturalists Field Club and Randwick Historical Society all wanted to become involved because they wanted to know more about their own part of the Escarpment. It did not take long for the total size of the survey to extend to 100 square kilometres. The area was flown over in 400 metre strips in a grid pattern.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board is meeting 70 per cent of the cost of the survey, expected to be around £30,000, while other groups and organisations have pledged to fund the balance. The resulting digital ‘map’ will be put on disc to be made available free of charge to anyone who needs the information, as long as it is not for commercial purposes. Cranham Local History Society have already found previously undiscovered archaeological features as a result of a trial LiDAR flight in 2005. This revealed, for instance, that the fort at Cooper’s Hill was much larger than originally thought.

Also the preliminary survey showed clearly the triangular earthworks of the Witts Enclosure – built in that shape to minimise the number of vulnerable corners. Now it is hoped to discover more about the Roman forts and Iron Age hill settlements scattered along the Escarpment. It is also hoped to find remains of conflicts as far apart as the Cromwellian Civil War and the Second World War, during which anti-aircraft gun emplacements were positioned in the area.

Will Handley, treasurer of Cranham Local History Society, said: “There has been a tremendous amount of interest from organisations in other areas, and their pledges of support enabled us to extend the survey area.

“Local schools have expressed great interest in using the survey to teach young people about local history and local geography.”

Information gathered by the survey will help other ongoing projects, such as the management of the Cooper’s Hill Local Nature Reserve by Gloucestershire County Council and the restoration of the Painswick Rococo Garden. Martin Whitaker, chairman of Cranham Local History Society, said: “The last public meeting about the survey was very well attended by about 80 people of all ages, some as young as six.

“That shows how this project has captured the imagination of so many people.”

The Society has created an informative website about the LiDAR survey. Log on to

Download The Cotswold Lion here. And also more info on LiDAR here.

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