Our long summer gives us a new perspective on Britain's archaeology
Our aerial survey team have been on hand to rapidly respond to sightings of parch marks this summer. A few weeks ago, they travelled to Fulham Palace and Clumber Park with drones, infrared and thermal cameras to join Tony Robinson and Channel 4’s Hidden Britain by Drone team to investigate some new parch marks that have appeared over the summer. Our team were able to record and survey them to create accurate maps known as an orthomosaic and 3d models.
The record breaking summer of 2018 has been a remarkable one for UK archaeology. As we reached record temperatures and the ground began to dry out, evidence of Britain’s past began to emerge. Parchmarks appear when crops and grasses growing over hidden archaeological remains, such as stone building foundations, dehydrate and discolour more quickly because they have less soil to draw moisture from. This discolouration marks out the remains, and when seen from above they provide amazing opportunities to learn more about underground archaeology without breaking ground.
The technology we have at our fingertips is fantastic because it allows this information to be produced more rapidly than traditional methods whilst still maintaining accuracy. It also allows archaeological sites to be viewed from angles which previously would have not been available (without chartering a plane!).
Fulham Palace has been the historic house and garden of the Bishop of London since AD 704 and a Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1976. Previous excavations there uncovered evidence for Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman activity but 2018’s sunny climes gave visitors a chance to see evidence of a long-lost chapel, as the buried remains created parchmarks on the lawn.
Infrared imaging can measure subtle temperature differences and crop health, highlighting where crops are growing well and not so well. In this case, our infrared survey has highlighted the layout of the once magnificent Clumber House. The house was built in 1768 but during its life was ravaged by fire and remodelled twice, before a final devastating fire in 1938 meant that much of the house had to be demolished.
Catch up on Hidden Britain by Drone heatwave special on Channel 4 here https://www.channel4.com/programmes/hidden-britain-by-drone.