OS OpenData – protecting the past to build the future

In any development project there is a legal obligation to assess and protect any significant archaeological or built heritage remains. Developers must show that such issues have been taken into account, appropriately examined and effectively mitigated, if they are to gain planning permission for proposed works.

Factoring archaeological and heritage advice and works into a project from the start can help to ensure project success. It reduces the risk of ‘hitting the unexpected’ and the ultimate cost of the project.


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Using maps to interpret archaeology and heritage

Guest blog by Lisa Keys at Minerva Heritage

Archaeology and heritage professionals use maps in all sorts of ways. We might plot surveys, excavation sites and finds to build up a picture of the past, or we might examine old maps to research sites and buildings as part of the planning application process.

At Minerva Heritage Ltd, one of our specialities is the interpretation of archaeology and heritage for the public. Recently, we have been using OS getamap to help us plan routes for heritage trails. First we undertake research to see what archaeology and heritage sites we have to work with in a particular area. Using OS getamap we are now able to accurately plot our known sites, and then we can identify roads, tracks and footpaths to help us identify and assess possible routes for the heritage trails. Once we have done the preliminary plotting, then we are able to go out to the area to test out our trail route.

What makes OS getamap really great is that it provides a simple facility for us to see the gradient of the route, the suggested length of time it would take to walk the route, and it provides the level of detail we need to investigate all rights of way. While there is no substitute for getting out and seeing the route for ourselves, OS getamap gives us an idea of what we are letting ourselves in for!




Wessex Archaeology – mapping the past

You might have read my blog on Wessex Archaeology’s finds at our new head office, describing the Bronze Age Farm that was once on our Southampton site…while chatting with the team, based on the outskirts of Salisbury, I discovered just how much they rely on our data, both on paper and in numerous electronic formats. Talking to Paul Cripps, Geomatics Manager at Wessex Archaeology (WA), I discover that their mapping interests run from historic mapping to OS OpenData and a whole range in between.

Much of WA’s work is spatial, finding out how things relate to each other. From historic buildings to excavations to the marine environment, mapping is fundamental to everything WA do. But they don’t just use it as a backdrop, they add information about their excavations and finds too and attach that to their mapping. I was surprised to find that the historic mapping is not only needed to understand change through time but to ensure the accurate interpretation of aerial photography amongst other things; it is not always easy to work out what is shown in an aerial photograph alone and the feature may not be shown on more modern maps, a second world war bunker on a disused airfield can look very similar to a Roman fort from the air! Read More


Bronze Age farm discovered at OS head office

I met up with Wessex Archaeology recently to find out about the previous residents at Adanac Park, the site of our new head office.

Back in 2008, as part of the planning process, Wessex Archaeology were asked to investigate the site for historical interest. They were fairly confident of finding some archaeological remains as there had been finds at sites in the local area, but were surprised to find evidence of a late Bronze Age farm, the first of its kind in this part of Hampshire.

Archaeologist Andrew Fitzpatrick told me, ‘The site proved to be late Bronze Age, around 3,000 years old, four or five houses and evidence of smaller structures, such as storage sheds and granaries. There was also an Iron Age burial ground with seven barrows and other graves. This was quite unexpected and the site is unique in Britain.’ Read More