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16 July 2006
English Heritage to reveal old aerial photos of Stonehenge

English Heritage is celebrating the centenary of the first aerial photographs of Stonehenge with a touring exhibition opening at the Neolithic site. Dozens of vintage and modern photographs will tell the story of the first images and explore the world of aerial photography in Britain, and will look at how they have helped our understanding of 6,000 years of British pre-history. "Aerial photography is most useful in helping us understand the human use and development of the landscape around Stonehenge," said Dave Batchelor, chief Stonehenge archaeologist at English Heritage.
     Lieutenant Phillip Henry Sharpe of the Royal Engineers’ Balloon Section took the first three aerial photos of the famous site from a tethered balloon in 1906. After the photos were published in the journal of the Society of Antiquaries in 1907 archaeologists gradually came to realise the value of aerial photography as a key technique to discover, record and interpret traces of the past. "Today aerial survey is the single most important tool for the discovery of archaeological sites in this country," said Pete Horne, Head of Aerial Survey and Investigation at English Heritage.
     Every year hundreds of new sites are found through the English Heritage National Mapping Programme, ranging from Neolithic long barrows to Roman villas, medieval villages and World War Two defences. The new exhibition, 100 Years of Discovery, will be on display at Stonehenge from August 1 to 7 2006 and will then tour other English Heritage sites around the country. For full details see the English Heritage website.

Source: Graham Spicer for 24 Hour Museum (13 July 2006)

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