Thursday, August 04, 2011

Portal to the Past: Prehistoric England Map Project

The School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford is to compile a map of prehistoric England for the first time, says Telegraph.

The 'Portal to the Past’ project will allow people to look online to discover the history of their own area over 3,500 years, from the Bronze Age in 1500BC to the Domesday Book in 1086.

Professor Chris Gosden, who is leading the project, said local history is one of the most popular internet searches after family ancestors.

However at the moment the parish records will only show up to around 1,000 years ago.

The five year project, funded by £1.8 million from the European Research Council, will bring together all the available data into a digital archive to create maps and as much information as possible about prehistoric England.

Most of the data will be from English Heritage aerial photographs showing ancient sites of interest. There is also £100 million spent every year by developers carrying out archaeological research on sites before building work begins and private research by museums and individuals.

Material will also be drawn from county archives, databases of ancient coins, and the Portable Antiquity Scheme (which records the archaeological finds made by metal detectors). Oxford researchers will work with the British Museum, the Archaeology Data Service and local history experts with a good knowledge of the period.

The Portal to the Past website is expected to go live in 2014. It will be available through the University of Oxford School of Archaeology website at


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