Citizen Scientists Help Manage Ancient Monuments
Volunteer citizen scientists are helping the New Forest National Park Authority survey around 150 nationally important monuments.
The New Forest has a rich and varied history of human interaction, extending back at least 13,000 years.
As part of this rich history, the National Park boasts everything from ancient burial mounds and hill forts, to Roman pottery kilns and the remains of Royal hunting lodges.
Scheduled monuments are archaeological sites of national importance due to their age, rarity and condition, and are protected by law to ensure they survive for many years to come. However, the monuments can be damaged by vegetation growth, erosion, burrowing animals or illegal metal detecting. Volunteers are visiting these nationally important sites and assessing their condition whilst out on their usual walks within the New Forest.
In the first month of the initiative over 50 monuments were visited and recorded by 10 volunteers, helping National Park Authority Archaeological Officer, Lawrence Shaw, to produce management plans and identify if they need any work undertaken to bring them back into good condition.
It is hoped all 150 monuments will be visited, to ensure the sites are in good condition and managed properly into the future.
Archaeology Officer Lawrence Shaw said: ‘This work has really highlighted how citizen science and people power can hugely benefit our National Park and its unique heritage. We have been staggered by the uptake we have already seen and look forward to seeing more people take part and learn about these nationally important monuments. The work has also highlighted how much people really care about our cultural heritage.’
James Burford, from Marchwood, volunteers for the citizen science project. He said: ‘I have lived in the Forest all my life. Having the opportunity to escape from my desk and immerse myself in the landscape with my dog is an incredibly rewarding experience.
‘I have always had a deep love of history and archaeology, and exploring the fascinating lumps and bumps of the Forest and being able to explore and record those and to help to interpret them for the benefit of others is magnificent.’
Around 150 of the Forest’s scheduled monuments can be found on Forestry Commission managed land. Andrew Norris, Planning Forester for the Forestry Commission, said: ‘Much of the scenery of the New Forest owes its very existence to the influence of people across thousands of years.
‘The archaeological evidence of barrows and kilns, hill forts and much, much more provides a record of that occupation, of people living and working here in the past, and the survey data gathered by citizen scientist is invaluable in informing those people working here today by adding to our understanding of what we have and why it’s so precious. We work closely with our colleagues within the National Park Authority and the information gathered through this project will ultimately better protect our historic and cultural heritage.’
Training is provided for all volunteers and if you are interested in taking part in the surveys, please visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteering.
To discover more about the rich archaeology of the New Forest, visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/discover/history-culture.
Notes to Photo Editors:
A volunteer recording a pre-historic burial mound.
Notes to Editors:
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 www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.
Beki Mole, Communications Assistant
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639