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Survey lasers in on Iron-Age archaeology

January 11, 2016  - By
Image: GPS World

High-tech aerial laser surveying is being employed to reveal the hidden archaeology of an Iron-Age hill settlement in Lancashire, England.

Visually, the archaeological features are difficult to see, but a Bluesky laser survey, commissioned by the Morecambe Bay Partnership, is expected to reveal previously undiscovered details of a settlement at Warton Crag. Identified as an important Heritage at Risk site, the site has already been subject to low-level archaeological investigations, which have identified remains from a small, well defended hill fort.

“It is imperative that we get a better definition of the archaeological remains that are currently ‘hidden’ by the dense vegetation cover,” said Louise Martin, H2H cultural heritage officer at the Morecambe Bay Partnership. “This will enable us to develop conservation strategies for the site and work towards reducing the risk to the archaeological remains. The site is currently on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register, so this work is crucial in developing partnerships and strategies to protect the monument for future generations.”

The Bluesky lidar system uses lasers to accurately measure the earth’s terrain and record features on the ground in 3D. A dedicated survey plane is equipped with aerial photography equipment and will fly over the site during the winter months when the tree and canopy cover is at its minimum.

Bluesky will process the millions of individual laser measurements to create detailed 3D computer models of the Earth’s relief — a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) — and ground surface including buildings and vegetation — a Digital Surface Model (DSM). This will allow the Morecambe Bay Partnership to model scenarios and strategies and share information with project partners.

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