Look up to see South Downs laser plane

Harriet Lee, 16

St John’s College, Southsea, GCSE art exhibition

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A PLANE equipped with cutting-edge technology will be flying over the South Downs looking for ancient settlements.

The area is famous for Iron and Bronze Age monuments such as Winchester Hill, but a large part of the central areas of the National Park lie under forests or woodland, meaning almost nothing is known about their ancient history.

Between Monday and Saturday the plane, a Piper Chieftain survey aircraft, will be using airborne laser technology to map the ground underneath 30,000 hectares of woodland between the river Arun and the A3M.

It is the start of a three-year Heritage Lottery Funded project.

Once the 3D map has been created local archaeologists and community groups will be recruited from the autumn to investigate the sites further.

The project will provide new information linking today’s communities to the people who have lived in and cared for this landscape for the last 6,000 years.

Rebecca Bennett from South Downs National Park Authority, said: ‘There are a few archive aerial photographs of this area capturing a tantalising glimpse of features revealed by felling during the First World War, but there is so much that we don’t know.’

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