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17 July 2013
Volunteers to map ancient hill forts

Archaeologists are drafting a volunteer army to help map every ancient hill fort across Britain and Ireland, as part of a 4-year project to create an online atlas of around 5,000 of these Iron Age monuments.
     Despite their large numbers there has been little academic work on hill forts, how they were used and how they varied. The oldest hill forts are in Ireland and Wales, and are up to 3,000 years old.
     Professor Gary Lock, of Oxford University, who has studied and excavated a number of the forts in England, said that despite their name archaeological evidence suggests they were not primarily used for military purposes. Researchers believe they may have been meeting places for religious festivals or market days. "We have found pottery, metalwork and evidence of domestic activities like spinning and weaving, also of agriculture, crops like wheat and barley and of keeping pigs, sheep and cattle," Lock said.      
     "We are keen to see what the citizen science approach may reveal," said Professor Ian Ralston, of Edinburgh University, the project co-director. "We expect the results of this project to change our vision of these iconic monuments."
     Volunteers will be able to feed information on their local hill fort into an online form on the Atlas of Hillforts project website.The maps will be freely available to the public, searchable by region and linked to Google Earth to show the hillforts in the context of the landscape.

Edited fom BBC News (8 July 2013)

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