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5 August 2011
Project to map ancient England

The School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford is to compile a map of prehistoric England for the first time. The 'Portal to the Past' project will allow people to look online to discover the history of their own area over 3,500 years, from the Bronze Age in 1500 BCE to the Domesday Book in 1086 CE.
     Professor Chris Gosden, who is leading the project, said local history is one of the most popular internet searches after family ancestors. The five year project will bring together all the available data into a digital archive to create maps and as much information as possible about prehistoric England. Most of the data will be from aerial photographs. Material will also be drawn from county archives, databases of ancient coins, and the Portable Antiquity Scheme.
     Professor Gosden said bringing all the information about ancient England into one website will reveal where the landscape has developed, and indeed stayed the same. Access to maps and databases on artefacts may also help budding archaeologists or even treasure hunters to find more. "England is extraordinary in the level of potential information about the ancient landscape," 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."
     The Portal to the Past website is expected to go live in 2014. It will be available through the University of Oxford School of Archaeology website at www.arch.ox.ac.uk

Edited from The Telegraph (2 August 2011)

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