The Cotswold Hills NMP project area extends from Wotton-under-Edge in the south-west to just south of Stow-on-the-Wold in the north of the Cotswold Hills. The project has been funded by the Historic Environment Enabling Programme (Project No. 4755) and was carried out by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeological Service. The aim was to provide a complete transcription and interpretation of archaeological features from all periods which are visible on aerial photographs.
Mapping began in and around the Cirencester area and has revealed an interesting wealth of archaeological features which date from the prehistoric periods to the Second World War. Numerous ring ditches are visible as cropmarks, and are interpreted as the levelled remains of probable Bronze Age round barrows.
Although no settlements have been identified dating to this period the presence of the many funerary sites and field systems which may be contemporary is indicative of a Bronze Age population. The area continued to be settled during the Iron Age, as suggested by ‘banjo’ enclosures, rectilinear enclosures, hill forts and unenclosed settlements.
Roman period sites
The Cotswold Hills are also well known for Roman sites, and many have been identified by the aerial survey. There is a wealth of evidence for Roman-period activity within the project area, as the long-lasting Roman influence made significant changes to how the landscape was structured. New types of site such as villas, towns, and the extensive road network were constructed across the region. Large numbers of villa sites and other settlements are mostly visible as cropmarks, such as that at Barnsley Park, which is associated with an extensive system of field boundaries.
Medieval and Post Medieval sites
The most common form of archaeological evidence across the study area is the remnants of the medieval and post medieval agrarian landscape. Extensive areas of ridge and furrow cultivation are visible as earthworks on the historical aerial photography, much of which has subsequently been plough-levelled.
The Cotswold Hills region was extensively cultivated in the past, as it still is today. Aerial survey can reveal some of the innovations and changing farming practices which were adopted in the agricultural revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries. Along many of the valley bottoms there are extensive and well preserved water meadows dating to the post medieval period.
Second World War sites
The Cotswold Hills contain a number of Second World War military camps, airfields and hospitals, many of which were located within large scale parks and gardens requisitioned during the war. In Cirencester Park, immediately to the west of the town, a pair of American army hospitals are visible on the historical aerial photography.
The images used on this page are copyright English Heritage unless specified otherwise. For further details of any photographs or other images and for copies of these, or the plans and reports related to the project please contact the English Heritage Archive.
For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Aerial Survey team please contact us via email using the link above.