University to create prehistoric map of England

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A ‘Portal to the Past’ project, compiled by the School of Archaeology at Oxford University, seeks to break new ground by creating a map of prehistoric England for the very first time, avaliable to the general public. The website is expected to be completed and launched in 2014.

With the team leader of the project, Professor Chris Gosden, noting that local history is one of the most popular internet searches, the project seeks to take advantage of public interest by enabling visitors to unravel their localised history over the past 3,500 years. At status quo, parish records will only show up results of up to 1,000 years ago.

Data will be gathered from several sources. Amongst myriad resources include English Heritage aerial photographs showing ancient sites of interest, information from developers carrying out archaeological research on sites before building work begins, county archives, and even private research by museums and individuals.

In order to harness the information into one platform, the project team will work closely with the British Museum, the Archaeology Date Service and local history experts. Professor Gosden commented that bringing these information into one centralised portal will reveal how the landscape of England has changed over the years.

He said: “England is extraordinary in the level of potential information about the ancient landscape. We hope this project will provide an in-depth analysis of the whole of England, so we can glean new insights into how the landscape has changed and developed.”

Professor Gosden also revealed that this project will add a wealth of knowledge on the overall landscape development of England over the past 3,500 years. He said: “Until now we have had fragments of information about landscape use during this period but this project allows us to form a bigger picture of overall patterns and regional variations within England.”

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