DerwentWISE: Empowering Communities to Care for their Heritage

DerwentWISE is a five-year Heritage Lottery funded project, led by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust - together with other local and national agencies, to safeguard and restore the landscape of the Lower Derwent Valley, including the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

As part of the project’s heritage objectives, YAT was commissioned to identify previously undiscovered sites by analysing LIDAR data, which provides detailed height measurements of the ground surface. Digital terrain modelling, combined with sophisticated visualisation techniques, allowed us map the archaeological earthwork features of the landscape. 

Once the work was complete, 514 new archaeological sites had been discovered. A significant proportion (45%) of these relate to agriculture – ridge and furrow, lynchets, banks, etc. – but the larger proportion (55%) relate to industrial activities, exploiting the mineral and woodland resources of the valley.

These discoveries contributed to an ongoing project, where volunteers survey and provide condition reports on newly identified sites – a great example of citizen science!

New technology, like the LIDAR survey, can change our understanding of the extent of the historic environment and give us new methods for managing its future.

CommunityDavid Scott