'Secrets of the High Wood' revealed in Buriton

Posted on Sat, 22/10/2016 - 1:07pm

Discoveries made after airborne laser scanning mapped part of the South Downs National Park that had been hidden under woodland for hundreds of years were described at the Buriton Village Association autumn talk in October.

About sixty people came to the village hall to hear Anne Bone of the National Park Authority explain how cutting-edge LiDAR surveys had revealed hundreds of exciting archaeological discoveries.

And Anne reminded the audience that the touring exhibition, with inter-active CGI and augmented reality, will be based at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park from 8th to 30th November.

Anne showed pictures of findings under the trees in the nearby Country Park and also a series of small old chalk quarries and lime kilns on the slopes of the downs above Buriton: many more than are generally known about today..

The project also revealed a 'missing link' in the Roman road network but one of the biggest findings was the discovery of a vast area farmed by pre-historic people on an astonishing scale: extensive, well-preserved field-systems which have probably been untouched since the Romans left 1,600 years ago and which may go back much further.

The field systems raised many questions. Who was growing these crops and who was eating all of this food? The surveys have not found signs of settlement so where were they living? The scale is so large that it must have been managed, suggesting that this part of the country was being organised as a farming collective on a very large scale.

It is being suggested that the degree of civilisation that this implies is completely unexpected in this part of the world at this period of time - something closer to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians than current views of pre-historic Britain.

Anne also explained that the results of the LiDAR survey would be available for archaeologists to use for years to come and they should also ensure that future management of the land can help to protect the exciting discoveries.

There is a link to a short film about the project here (project film) and Anne referred to a detailed report which is available via the National Park's website.

The project web-pages are at: https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/discover/heritage/secrets-of-the-high-woods/

The link to the report by Historic England about the findings of this project is at: https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/TheHighWoodsfromaboveNationalMappingProgramme.pdf