Shedding light on the New Forest’s past


Published Friday 18 September 2015

Budding archaeologists of all ages can learn about the New Forest’s fascinating past at a new interactive exhibition.

With activities, videos and high-tech gadgets, the display tells the story of how new technology has helped map the lost archaeology of the New Forest.

The free exhibition runs from 18 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst and charts the work of the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme - a habitat restoration project run by the Verderers, New Forest National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The scheme has been able to identify archaeological sites previously hidden beneath the tree canopy using a remote sensing technique known as Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar). The technique involves firing harmless lasers from a light aircraft to map potential sites.   

As well as reviewing the last five years of investigation, the exhibition will allow visitors to get hands on with heritage in a number of different ways, including:

  • Using lights and pin boards to identify archaeological sites found by Lidar
  • Becoming an armchair archaeologist and identify lost and forgotten archaeological features on an interactive touch table
  • Immersing yourself in interactive virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites, including a World War Two airfield and a Roman villa
  • Seeing Victorian surveying equipment provided by Ordnance Survey which would have once been used to map the New Forest.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, New Forest National Park Authority Chairman, said: ‘This exhibition gives people a chance to learn about the role that the Higher Level Stewardship scheme has played in protecting and managing the special habitats and heritage of the Open Forest.

‘I hope the interactive activities will help visitors find out more about how the scheme has utilised powerful new technology to peel back layers of the New Forest’s past.’

Dominic May, Official Verderer said: ‘The Verderers’ HLS scheme allows us to turn the clock back, restoring the New Forest by removing previous man-made interventions such as the deep channels dug in the 19th and 20th centuries to drain the timber plantations .

‘We have funded the Lidar project in order to improve our archaeological information. In turn that knowledge allows us to be careful not to disturb any ancient monuments, both those we knew about previously, and particularly those sites which the Lidar project has discovered for the first time.’

Shedding New Light on the New Forest’s Past runs 10am to 4.30pm daily from 18 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst. Entry is free.

Find out more about Lidar by watching the film at


Notes to photo editor:

Lawrence Shaw, National Park Authority Heritage Mapping Officer, using one of the exhibits, a Victorian surveying instrument with a rotating telescope for measuring angles, called a theodolite.

Notes to editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more

About Environmental Stewardship

The Environmental Stewardship Schemes is administered by Natural England, on behalf of Defra, and funds farmers and land managers throughout England to deliver effective environmental management on their land.

The objectives of Environmental Stewardship are to:

  • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
  • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
  • Protect the historic environment and natural resources
  • Conserve biodiversity

About Natural England

Natural England is the government's advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England's wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  • We establish and care for England's main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
  • We work to ensure that England's landscapes are effectively protected, designating England's National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and advising on their conservation.
  • We run England's Environmental Stewardship green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of

England's farmland.

  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England's species and habitats.
  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

Media Contact:

Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

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