AN aerial view of a lead mine spoil on Grassington Moor as you have never seen it before has been released by Historic England.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to some of the most spectacular archaeological landscapes in the country and people can now view places of archaeological interest virtually thanks to Historic England’s new mapping tool.

 The pattern of stone walled fields and barns in the Dales is just one layer in a landscape with a history stretching back thousands of years. 

It was one of the first areas of the country to be extensively mapped from aerial photographs. Before the use of digital technology, in the 2000s, features were drawn by hand on transparent film - requiring considerable skill. These maps have since been scanned and turned into digital images. Even though the mapping is 30 years old the creators say it is still an amazing record of the landscape. 

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England said: “This new aerial archaeology mapping tool lets people fly virtually over England and drink in its many layers of history. It will allow everyone to explore the hidden heritage of their local places and what makes them special. We hope it will give people a springboard to further investigation, whether for research purposes or simply to satisfy curiosity about what archaeological features they may have noticed around their local area”.

In field after field, aerial photographs reveal lumps and bumps or features representing the remains of settlements dating back to the prehistoric period. Some of the most spectacular remains can be seen at Grassington where the long shadows in winter months pick out the earthworks of fields and enclosures. 

In the post medieval period, the Yorkshire Dales were extensively mined for lead. Traces of the shafts and spoil heaps litter the uplands. Just a few kilometres away from Grassington’s prehistoric field system is an extensive area of lead mines which are protected as a scheduled monument. 

The aerial pictures and maps in the Dales are just a few of those captured by Historic England. Its new digital tool - Aerial Archaeology Mapping Explorer - for the first time, allows people to fly virtually over England to find out more about hidden archaeological landscapes on their doorstep.

From ancient settlements to secret Cold War military installations, the Aerial Archaeology Mapping Explorer contains thousands of archaeological sites identified on aerial photographs over the past 30 years.

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