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Lothingland, Lowestoft and North Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB National Mapping Programme project

This National Mapping Programme (NMP) project investigated a 118 sq km area of northeast Suffolk’s coastal hinterland, stretching from the Norfolk/Suffolk border to the edges of the coastal town of Southwold. It was designed to address a gap in NMP coverage between the Norfolk coast and Broads, the Suffolk coast and the Waveney Valley (mapped as part of the Suffolk ALSF NMP). Its results provide a more complete picture of the historic environment of the project area, which means it can be better understood and protected.

For the purposes of mapping, the project area was divided into three Study Areas:

  • Lothingland
  • Greater Lowestoft
  • North Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB

Colour aerial photograph showing a couple of fields in crop with some paler lines against a yellowy brown background
Part of a cropmark complex at Park Farm, Lound, in the Lothingland Study Area photographed on 03-AUG-2010; a ring ditch underlies the trackway and field system (centre right of photograph) (NMR 27286/11) © Historic England

The project

The project mapped and described nearly 600 archaeological sites. The vast majority (up to 78%) were new discoveries. The sites ranged in date from prehistory to the Second World War. They included Bronze Age burial mounds, prehistoric and Roman settlements and field systems, Anglo-Saxon buildings, medieval manors, post-medieval pleasure grounds and 20th century military defences.

Mapping took place from August 2013 to November 2014 and was carried out by the Historic Environment Service of Norfolk County Council, in collaboration with Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. Data resulting from the survey will be incorporated into the National Record of the Historic Environment and the Suffolk Historic Environment Record (HER) database and Geographic Information System (GIS). An online version of the Suffolk HER – the Suffolk Heritage Explorer – is now available.


Lothingland was the project’s northernmost Study Area. It is an area of light loam soils and arable agriculture, which in the right conditions can produce a dense spread of cropmark sites. Across the northern portion of Lothingland, which was mapped as part of the Norfolk Coast and Broads NMP, a virtually uninterrupted buried landscape of field systems, trackways, burial mounds and settlements was uncovered, ranging in date from prehistory to the post medieval period. The archaeology encountered within the Lothingland Study Area was not as dense or as complex, but still demonstrated a long history of intensive use for agriculture, settlement and burial. The complex of cropmarks visible at Park Farm, Lound, which includes enclosures, trackways and fields of probable later prehistoric and/or Roman date, is typical of the archaeology visible on the aerial photographs across the southern part of Lothingland. These features overlie a group of ring ditches, probably the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow cemetery, which is also visible on the aerial photographs.

Black and white aerial photograph showing arable fileds with hedges and a road runnig through them
Cropmarks at Park Farm, Lound, in the Lothingland Study Area photographed on 08-JUL-1976 (NLA 9910/TM5098N) © Norfolk County Council. Photograph by Derek Edwards

Greater Lowestoft

Greater Lowestoft is a key area for development, which could threaten its heritage sites. The NMP survey has provided better information about the existence, location, extent and character of archaeological sites in the area. Using 1940s (and occasionally earlier) aerial photographs, the project recorded many sites of Second World War date within this Study Area. Lowestoft played an important role during the war, as a port and base for the Royal Navy. The town was defended against invasion from land and sea, and from aerial attack. The aerial photographs enabled the buildings, structures and earthworks relating to the military sites and defences to be traced across the town and far out into the suburbs and countryside surrounding it, and along the coast to its north and south.

Black and white vertical aerial photograph showing a number of hexagonal structures within an area of disturbed ground
A Second World War field artillery position to the west of Lowestoft photographed on 21-SEP-1945. It is visible camouflaged within a quarry ( RAF/106G/UK/821 RV 6092)  Historic England RAF Photography

North Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB

This Study Area encompassed the northernmost part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths (SC&H) Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The project hoped to record surviving earthworks on areas of present or former heathland. In fact relatively small areas of heath were encountered within the project area (this land type is more prevalent further to the south). Nevertheless, buried sites visible as cropmarks were encountered throughout the Study Area, along with numerous sites relating to Second World War defences, and a few earthworks, mainly within areas of parkland. Earthwork enclosures of uncertain date and function were also identified within ancient woodland at Mutford Big Wood.

Colour image showing NMP mapping as red and green lines against a grey OS background
Earthwork enclosures of uncertain date and function within ancient woodland at Mutford Big Wood, in the AONB Study Area. Ordnance Survey base mapping © Crown Copyright, Suffolk County Council licence number 100023395 2014
National Mapping Programme Project for Lothingland, Greater Lowestoft and North Suffolk Coast and Heaths

National Mapping Programme Project for Lothingland, Greater Lowestoft and North Suffolk Coast and Heaths

Published 1 March 2015

A summary report on the air photo and lidar mapping undertaken for the Lothingland, Greater Lowestoft and North Suffolk Coast and Heaths National Mapping Programme (6642)

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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