3d model of Raunds Northamptonshire (c) MOLA

MOLA drones take flight to survey greenfield site archaeology in Northampton

MOLA team

Our specialist in-house Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) team surveyed a complex medieval site at Midland Road Raunds, using one of our three drones in advance of residential development. This enabled the rapid and efficient recording the remains of a series of masonry buildings.

The Clients (Kier Living) and their Consultants (CgMs Consulting Ltd) both adopted a positive and proactive approach to the works.  MOLA were able to utilise Global Positioning System (GPS) alongside drone technology to rapidly record the remains using digital photogrammetry. This enabled the generation of detailed orthomosaic images and 3D models, saving considerable time and expense when compared to traditional hand drawn record. You can explore the 3D models below.

Late medieval dovecotes and workshops at Midland Road, Raunds recorded using rectified digital cameras mounted on UAV (drone)

This approach also resulted in an incremental increase in quality, saving both time and expense, whilst ensuring that all works were completed to the full satisfaction of the local authority, satisfying the planning condition and allowing construction to proceed with minimal delay. 

As part of the process the excavations were also opened to local residents and school children as part of a series of guided tours and open days, resulting in positive feedback and publicity, with PR opportunities for the client and the new development.

The commercial use of drones within archaeology is being pioneered by MOLA as part of the company’s commitment to utilise and further develop and technological advancements to add to efficiency and quality.  They are proving particularly effective on large greenfield sites to survey larger areas quickly and more efficiently. MOLA is one of the few archaeological organisations in the UK that holds the requisite licences and permits from the Civil Aviation Authority to undertake such works commercially.

MOLA are grateful to Kier Living for funding the works and CgMs Consulting Ltd for overseeing them.

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