O-W-POOR-LOT-232An exciting archaeological survey has uncovered yet more secrets on the South Dorset Ridgeway.  The first ever review of aerial photographs of the whole of this ancient landscape has now been completed and revealed many as yet unrecorded historic features.

The survey of the South Dorset Ridgeway area, which runs along the high ground north of Weymouth to Dorchester, was based on all available aerial photographs and other data. The project formed part of the National Mapping Programme and was carried out by specialists at Cornwall County Council on behalf of English Heritage and Dorset County Council.

The experts have identified 3,453 archaeological sites of which 2,500 were new and previously unrecorded. The sites range in date from 6,000 years ago through to wartime remains from the 20th century.  New sites provisionally allocated a Neolithic date include potential long barrows and a possible henge monument near Bradford Peverell. 325 new Bronze Age barrow sites were identified confirming that these funerary monuments extend right across the Ridgeway and on the higher ground to the north of the River Frome. The numbers of later prehistoric sites recorded are extremely significant with 72% of sites assigned an Iron Age, prehistoric, Iron Age/Roman or Roman date being new to the record. Types of new sites attributed to these periods included enclosures, settlements and field systems as well as two possible Roman camps.

The early medieval period is still poorly understood with no sites identified during the mapping; however the later medieval period is richly represented with 229 new sites recorded including 11 new settlement sites

The greatest numbers of sites recorded were dated to the post medieval period, a period that has traditionally been ignored by archaeological survey and field investigation. Sites of particular note are the water meadow systems along the River Frome. The recording of 20th century military sites, particularly using the RAF vertical photographs taken during and soon after the Second World War, has proved highly informative with many significant sites being recorded for the first time. Given its position on the south coast with the important Naval installations at Weymouth and Portland harbour, this stretch of the Dorset coast was heavily protected from invasion and the remains of military installations have been recorded right along the coastline.

Download the report

  • Section 1: Summary, Background, Aims and Objectives, The Project Area, Overview of the Aerial Photographs Section 1 2.04 Mb
  • Section 2: Results of NMP Mapping (Prehistoric sites) Section 2 3.75 Mb
  • Section 3: Results of NMP Mapping (Roman, Medieval, post medieval, historic and 20th Century sites) Section 3 9.84 Mb
  • Section 4: Conclusions, References and Methodology Section 4 75.48 Kb