The aerial survey of the Malvern Hills formed part of an archaeological survey of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by Research Department staff of English Heritage. There were three main elements to the project: aerial reconnaissance, NMP air photo interpretation and field survey.
A publication of the whole archaeological survey was produced in 2005 titled 'The Malvern Hills: An Ancient Landscape'. This is available through the English Heritage online bookshop or as a PDF or print on demand publication.
From hillforts to military hospitals
The project has shown how aerial survey can contribute to research in an area dominated by upland and pasture. Numerous archaeological remains, ranging in date from the prehistoric to modern periods, were interpreted and mapped from aerial photographs.
These included the well known earthwork monuments in the area, such as the late prehistoric hillforts on the Malvern ridge, as well as cropmarks of Bronze Age round barrows and late prehistoric and Roman settlements.
Most of the sites recorded relate to the medieval and post medieval periods, including extensive ridge and furrow cultivation and some evidence for settlement. More recent remains consisted of several World War II army camps, hospitals and searchlight batteries.
New photography reveals lost landscape
The aerial reconnaissance of the Malvern Hills looked for new sites and photographed as wide a range of types of sites as possible, rather than concentrating on traditional cropmarks and major earthwork monuments. This included photographing isolated medieval or post medieval house platforms, areas of ridge and furrow, cultivation terraces and quarrying, all of which add to our understanding of past settlement and land use.
Historic vertical photographs are not are not always taken at the most propitious times of day and year to maximise the visibility of archaeological features. For example, near Hillend and Way End Street, only the major boundaries were visible on the vertical photographs taken in the 1940s and 1960s. However, photographs taken in February and March 1999, in slanting sunlight, when the grass was low, show numerous low platforms and finer details of the site.
This meant that a previously unrecognised landscape of medieval settlement and agricultural remains could be interpreted and mapped.
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.