Hidden histories: landscape spotting – a brief guide

Historian article

Mary-Ann Ochota, last updated: 16th August 2019

The art of landscape spotting – identifying and interpreting visible archaeological features in the countryside – is an accessible, enlightening and fun way to explore our past. By finding these clues in the fields, roads, hedges and hills around us, we can start to piece together the biography of a landscape, perhaps adding 6,000 years of human history to the view. Mary-Ann Ochota offers an introduction to the budding landscape detective.

We live on an island heaving with archaeology. Britain has been continuously occupied for 12,000 years, and every generation has left its archaeological mark in the landscape – shaping the land for agriculture and settlements, to commemorate the dead and honour the living, to fight, travel and trade. From the earliest monuments, burial mounds and chambers created by Neolithic farmers, to packhorse bridges, to ancient woodlands still managed in ways that would be familiar to medieval woodsmen. If you know the clues to spot, Britain’s historical stories reveal themselves at every turn...

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