Friday 10 October 2014

Villas, barrows, DMVs and roads: viewing Lincolnshire's archaeology from the air using Google & Bing Maps

This is really just a very quick post to highlight how the satellite imagery offered by Google Maps, Google Earth and Bing Maps can be useful to archaeologists and historians working in the UK, just as much as it is to those interested in, say, Afghanistan. Although no substitute for proper aerial photographs of the type used by the RCHME, these easily accessible archives of satellite imagery provide a quick and simple way to check out interesting sites with relatively little effort. Four examples are offered below.

The first is from Bing Maps, which includes a beautiful image of one of the best preserved Deserted Medieval Villages in Lincolnshire, that at Brackenborough near Louth:

Brackenborough Deserted Medieval Village; click here for a larger, zoom-able version of this image.

The second is from Google Maps and is a cropmark Roman villa found to the south-west of Scamblesby; the Roman road leading to the east coast lay just to the north of this site, as did a possible settlement, including lanes, which was identified here by Dilwyn Jones and which may be associated with the villa:

Cropmarks of large rectangular enclosure complex—a probable Roman villa site—at Scamblesby, Lincolnshire: click here for a larger, zoom-able version of this image.

The third image is of the prehistoric Bully Hills barrows at Tathwell. Bully Hills is a chain of seven round barrows that still survive up to a maximum of three metres high and between fifteen and twenty-five metres in diameter, and Google has images of these both from the air and from the road:

Bully Hills round barrows, Tathwell, Lincolnshire; click here for a larger, zoom-able version of this image.
Bully Hills round barrows, Tathwell, Lincolnshire, from the road; click here for a larger, zoom-able version of this image.

The fourth and final image is of a cropmark road running north-west from Louth. This appears as a dark line meandering its way from south-east to north-west across the aerial photograph below and is a track once known as 'New Lane Road'. New Lane Road was stopped up by the Enclosure Commissioners at the start of the nineteenth century and the line visible on the photograph below is replicated on David Robinson's 1979 map of pre-enclosure Louth (drawn from the Enclosure Award of 1805 and the Surveyor's Plan). The name of this track might suggest that it was of fairly recent origin. However, given that it ran by the large South Elkington–Louth Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery on the hill above the town, it is possible that it may have been, in origin, a track or footway of some antiquity:

A cropmark track once known as New Lane Road runs from Louth (right hand side of image) in a roughly north-westerly direction across this aerial photograph; click here to see a larger, zoom-able version of this image.

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