The Forest of Dean NMP survey area encompasses that part of Gloucestershire to the west of the River Severn. At its heart is a core of mixed deciduous and conifer forest with a long history of exploitation both for wood and the rich mineral deposits found there. Recognised as an area underrepresented in terms of known archaeological sites, an aerial photographic survey was undertaken in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council.
A range of photographs from the 1940s onwards were used in the survey and these show the felling and replanting of different parts of the forest through time. Each felled area provides a window on any archaeological sites otherwise hidden under the trees. This is well illustrated by the discovery of a possible prehistoric enclosure in a clearing visible on a photograph taken in 1946. In all subsequent photographs and on a recent flight the pattern of tree planting meant that the enclosure could not be seen.
Industrial history of the Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean has traditionally been an area of extensive industrial activity and the initial phase of the project concentrated on a form of iron ore extraction unique to the Forest. These iron ore quarries are known within the forest as Scowles and are thought to be semi-natural cavities in the limestone outcrops that have been enlarged through the extraction process. Charcoal was used as a fuel in the iron making process and the areas where charcoal was made have been seen as both earthworks and cropmarks. Other industrial remains recorded included iron works, coal mining, stone quarrying and the network of tramways and railways that served some of these concerns.
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.