3.5 Understanding the Landscape

Understanding the Landscape is our major Community Archaeology project, providing opportunities for volunteers to learn a range of archaeological techniques, and to make a genuine contribution to our understanding of the historic environment of the Quantock Hills and the surrounding landscape. Our ultimate aim is to create and train a group of local archaeological detectives to uncover clues about the historic landscape of the area and to interrogate the archaeological record in the field.

There is something here for anyone with an interest in the past, with opportunities to have a go at archaeological excavation; fieldwalking; test-pitting; geo-physics; map analysis and LiDAR interpretation. The results of these endeavours will be recorded on the Somerset Historic Environment Record, adding to the collective knowledge of the hills. Results will also be shared through a range of talks, walks and other events; website and social media content; and a final scheme exhibition at The Museum of Somerset.

The programme of work includes:

  • A high resolution (25cm) LiDAR survey. This was undertaken in the Winter of 2020 creating detailed digital maps of the entire QLPS area. Volunteers have received specialist training in how to interpret these images to help identify ‘new’ archaeological features and better understand existing ones. More info on our LiDAR work can be found here: https://qlps.org/lidar/
  • A programme of Village Test Pitting across five historic Quantock villages. Under professional guidance, village residents learn how to conduct mini archaeological digs in there own gardens. This is an easy and enjoyable way for local people to contribute to archaeological research whilst also providing information in occupied areas which other methods cannot access. Our first event took place in Bicknoller in 2021; our next weekend will take place in Kingston St Mary in March 2022.
  • Four community excavations will be carried out. The first of these took place on Cothelstone Hill in summer 2021, successfully helping to identify and date a late Bronze Age enclosure on the top of the hill. In 2022 we investigated land in Crowcombe, in search of the lost medieval manor. You can read more about Crowcombe’s Elusive Medieval Manor here
  • Geophysical surveys carried out on several potential sites to reveal more about their character and extent and to provide information to allow archaeological excavation to be targeted at specific features.
  • Fieldwalking of promising search areas in farmland; we will train people in this rapid method of characterising archaeological sites by recording the objects disturbed by the plough.

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