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Lasers to build 3D map lifting lid on South Downs past
Lasers are set to unlock the secret ancient history of the South Downs.
A £1 million project aims to map large swathes of densely-wooded areas using airborne laser technology.
Almost nothing is known about the 17,000 hectares of National Park that lies under ancient forest between the river Arun and the A3.
The ambitious plan is the result of £661,800 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with the rest funded by the South Downs National Park Authority.
Anne Bone, lead on Cultural Heritage at the National Park, said: “There are a few aerial photographs of this area which open a tantalising windowinto the South Downs’ hidden past. There is so much that we don’t know about the history of the people who lived here and if we don’t know what’s there how can we protect it for the future?”
Lumps and bumps
The lasers will be directed at the ground with the reflected light used to build a 3D map showing the lumps and bumps under the trees.
Archaeologists and community groups will help investigate the sites further.
The project will be led by the South Downs National Park Authority in partnership with Chichester District Council.
Ms Bone added: “There are a few aerial photographs of this area which open a tantalising window into the South Downs’ hidden past.
“There is so much that we don’t know about the history of the people who lived here and if we don’t know what’s there how can we protect it for the future?”
James Kenny, archaeology officer at Chichester District Council, says: “This project will provide a fantastic opportunity to discover the historic landscapes that are hidden beneath the trees in this part of the South Downs.
“We particularly value the potential for community involvement in the process and the better understanding of our shared heritage that it will promote.”
Stuart McLeod, of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This project provides a unique opportunity to peer beneath the wooded landscape of this nationally important downland and to energise local communities to find out more about the natural and cultural heritage of their area. Their involvement will help to protect it for generations to come.”
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