Aerial Investigation and Mapping (AI&M) methodology has been developed by English Heritage (now Historic England) for identifying, mapping and recording archaeological sites and landscapes from aerial photographs and other airborne remote sensed data such as lidar. It was previously known as the National Mapping Programme (NMP).
Valuable potential historic environment information is contained within aerial photographs for periods from the Neolithic period to the Cold War. It can be seen above the ground as earthworks or structures and buried remains can be revealed as cropmarks or soilmarks.
The AI&M methodology and standards developed by English Heritage (now Historic England) provide the means for expert aerial photograph interpreters to interpret and record this information to a consistent standard. Each AI&M project examines all readily available aerial photographs and remote sensing data for a specified area. Depending on this size of the project area, this can easily number into the tens of thousands of aerial photographs.
The best way to provide a synthesis of such a large amount of archaeological information is in the form of a map, with accompanying descriptions of all recorded sites and landscapes in the HER.
In this way, the AI&M projects enhance our understanding of past land use through identification and analysis of previously unrecorded archaeological landscapes and improving the information held for monuments already recorded on the HER. This information can then be used by Devon County Council Historic Environment team for research and management of change in the historic environment.
Several AI&M projects have surveyed areas of Devon and highlight reports can be downloaded from Historic England webpages.
- Blackdown Hills AONB. Also see the Historic England project page, and summaries of the main themes on the Blackdown Hills Aerial Investigation and Mapping Project page.
- East and Mid Devon River Catchments. Also, illustrated summaries of the main themes can be viewed on the East and Mid Devon Rivers Catchments NMP Project page.
- South Devon Coast RCZAS. Also, illustrated summaries of the main themes are also available on the South Devon Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment NMP Project page.
- North Devon Coast AONB. Also, illustrated summaries of the main themes are also available on the North Devon Coast AONB NMP Project page.
- North Devon.
- Dartmoor. Please contact Dartmoor National Park for information regarding this survey.
- Exmoor falls partly within Devon. Please contact Exmoor National Park for information regarding this survey.
The Historic Environment team is currently working with Historic England and AC Archaeology on a project between the South Devon Coast and Dartmoor. The first area, between Haldon Ridge and the Dart Valley, is finished. The second area, between Plymouth and the Avon Valley, is nearing completion.
A new project, in collaboration with the University of Exeter’s Understanding Landscapes project, is about to start. This will focus on interpretation of lidar data to supplement the sites already mapped from aerial photographs, and will incorporate data from the Understanding Landscapes volunteers.
More information on Aerial Investigation and Mapping can be found on Historic England’s webpages.