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Essex National Mapping Programme project

The Essex NMP project was one of the first projects of the National Mapping Programme carried out by external contractors. Begun in 1993 the mapping of the 190 sheets that cover the county was completed in 2003. The project recorded remains from all periods of history and prehistory, but some of the most interesting finds have come from almost opposite ends of that time span.

Colour aerial photograph showing the fortifications of the Harwich redoubt surrounded by allotments and modern housing
Harwich Redoubt photographed on 22-JUL-2003 (NMR 23161/11). © Historic England

Sites from all periods

Since the mapping was completed work was undertaken analysing and synthesising the data. This led to the publication of Aerial Archaeology in Essex: The Role of the National Mapping Programme in Interpreting the Landscape (East Anglian Archaeology Monograph 2011).

Examination of ritual and burial monuments from the Neolithic and Bronze Age has revealed interesting patterns that shed light on a wider use of the landscape.

At the other end of the time spectrum the NMP project included an examination of RAF photographs from during and immediately after the Second World War.

These showed how important Essex had been during the war and what a large impact had been made by military activities. Although there are some documentary records of sites, a lot were ephemeral and the wartime photographs are sometimes the only accurate record of what was actually built, as opposed to what were planned.

Colour aerial photograph showing green lines in a largely yellow field under crop.
Enclosures of probable prehistoric date showing as cropmarks near Lyons Hall and photographed on 30-MAY-1990 (NMR4579/17) © Crown copyright.HE


The key findings from the project can be found in the report, but were also incorporated in the Essex HER and can be found at Unlocking Essex's Past

National Mapping Programme Essex: Management Report

National Mapping Programme Essex: Management Report

Published 1 November 2003

NMP report from the Essex Mapping Project

The images used on this page are copyright Historic England unless specified otherwise. For further details of any photographs or other images and for copies of these, or the plans and reports related to the project please contact the Historic England Archive.

For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Remote Sensing Team please contact us via email using the link below.

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