The Chase Through Time, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
First World War camps
Trees, bracken, heather and bilberry cover much of the remains of Brocton Camp and Rugeley Camp. One hundred years ago, these would have been busy places with thousands of men stationed there at any one time. The lidar reveals the outlines of the huts and trenches where the troops lived and trained.
Survey and research
The first stage of this project is assessing these sites on lidar or aerial photographs. We can better understand some of these sites by also investigating them on the ground and researching old documents. We are carrying out some of this work with the help of local volunteers, who know much about the history of Cannock Chase.
Industry on the Chase
The First World War camps are only one part of the story of Cannock Chase. There is a long history of coal mining, ironworking and glass making and we are looking at the remains of these industries. Early coal mining involved digging small pits or shafts and groups of coal pits still survive across parts of the Chase.
Historic England’s archive has many old aerial photographs. Some of these show the larger collieries when they were still in use.
We also expect the lidar and aerial photographs will help us find the remains of even older sites. These could include fragments of medieval deer parks and post medieval rabbit warrens. We also hope to identify the remains of prehistoric sites.
Working in partnership
Historic England and Staffordshire County Council are working in partnership in this project. This is with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Historic England is making a digital map showing all the historic and prehistoric sites seen on from the air. We will visit some sites and record them in more detail. We will add what we find out about all of these to the council’s Historic Environment Record. This will help the council and its partners to better understand and manage landscape for future generations. It is hoped it will also help in the development if future projects focused on the history of Cannock Chase. This project forms part of the Historic England’s commemoration of the First World War Centenary: Home Front Legacy.
Edward Carpenter is an Investigator with Historic England. He joined the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1998. Since 2002 Edward has been involved in a number of multi-period aerial surveys across England; he has a particular interest in the various ways that these landscapes or the individual monuments within them are perceived.
Contact Edward Carpenter
Cannock Chase hut and cemetery
Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.
Also of interest...
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Landscape Survey: the recording and analytical methods we use when investigating sites and areas on the ground.
We identify archaeological sites and landscapes using aerial photography, lidar, geophysics, earthwork analysis and excavation.
Four sample areas were targeted during the Staffordshire aerial survey. Highlights include a concentration of prehistoric activity in the Trent Valley