The Leadon Valley has a very low density of known archaeology for an area identified as a potential sand and gravel extraction area in regional plans. The aim of the NMP project was to increase the amount and improve the quality of archaeological records. This means that the planning system has the information to make better decisions.
The results of the project
Before the Leadon valley NMP project, the archaeological remains from the later prehistoric, early medieval and modern periods were particularly poorly understood, though several significant Medieval sites were known. The Valley has not been extensively covered by reconnaissance but aerial photographs did show potential for cropmark formation.
The project area covered 126 square kilometres, in a 5 km wide strip. 187 new records have been added to the National Monument Record’s database, and 25 existing records have been revised. This means that the NMP survey has resulted in a 103% increase in the number of records for the area which the NMR holds.
Many of the sites identified are medieval or post-medieval in date; settlements and the remains of agricultural land use are the most common site types. These include old field boundaries, moated sites and deserted settlements (DMVs). There were also a number of flood defences and water meadows recorded along the River Leadon.
Charcoal burning was common in this area, and a number of charcoal platforms were recorded. These were seen where woodland had been cleared, and the dark areas of charcoal show in newly ploughed fields.
Second World War military sites
The Leadon Valley is a rather quiet and rural location today, but one of the key themes of the National Mapping Programme is that hardly any part of the country was unaffected by the Second World War. There was a number of military sites concentrated around Highnam. These included both training sites and military camps from the earlier part of the war, as well as United States Army tented camps and military hospitals which were constructed in the build up to D Day.
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.