Historic Environment Awareness Project

The Historic Environment Awareness project is an exciting venture which aims to explore the archaeological landscape of the Weald Forest Ridge.

A LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) aerial survey will map the area. Lasers bounced from a plane to the ground will penetrate the trees and ground vegetation. The data will then be digitally modelled to reveal ancient routeways, enclosures, mounds and pits.

Some of these features will be completely new discoveries. Others may already be known about, but their full extent never mapped before.

The project will also produce toolkits for identifying, recording and researching woodland archaeology. Armed with these, and with exciting new information from the LiDAR survey, you will be able to explore the hidden history of a wooded landscape.

LiDAR survey images

The images below show part of Ashdown Forest at Chelwood Gate.

The first is a standard aerial photograph. The second is a LiDAR computer-generated image, showing the landscape with all the vegetation removed.

You can see part of the medieval ditch and bank – known as a ‘pale’ – of the forest running diagonally from north west to south east. The long mound is an artificial medieval rabbit warren known as a pillow mound.

Chelwood Gate - aerial photograph
Chelwood Gate - aerial photograph
Chelwood Gate - LiDAR image
Chelwood Gate - LiDAR image

The Weald Forest Ridge

The Weald Forest Ridge runs east to west, in an almost unbroken line, from Tonbridge to Horsham and covers an area of 328 square kilometers. It reaches 241 metres above sea level at Crowborough Beacon.

The area contains a large proportion of the UK’s woodland, covering 40% of the area, 22% of which is ancient woodland. It has a wealth of archaeology, much of which is still to be located and explored, partly because the features are hidden by the woodland.

You can find out more about the Weald Forest Ridge, including all the other projects being carried out as part of the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme on the High Weald website.

Get involved with the project

Would you like to be involved? Would your group, school or family like to find out more about a particular area? For more information please contact county.her@eastsussex.gov.uk.

For general enquiries about archaeology in East Sussex contact the Archaeology team.