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Kent National Mapping Programme project

The Kent project had its origins in the Kent Air Photo Survey undertaken by the Air Photography Unit (APU) of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) during 1986-1987. The survey, partly funded by English Heritage, produced 1:10,000 scale maps of cropmarks for Kent, accompanied by written descriptions in what is now the National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE). The maps and descriptions were also intended to form part of the first county Sites and Monuments Record for Kent.

Black and white aerial photograph showing an arable field with cropmarks seen as darker lines against a paler background
Cropmarks and soilmarks on the Isle of Thanet photographed on 18-JUL-1988. To the bottom left are an overlapping group of enclosures of Iron Age and mediaeval date, whilst to the top right of the image the zigzag line reveals the location of 20th century defences (NMR 4137/22). © Crown copyright. HE

A pilot project

Because it was a pilot project, one of four that helped define the processes used in future NMP projects, its scope and methods were more limited than would now be the case. For example, only plough-levelled archaeological features visible as cropmarks and soilmarks were mapped, and vertical photography was little-used. The bias in the number and type of sites recorded can be seen in this distribution plot.

Black and white distribution map with sites shown as squares against a stylised map background
A map showing the locations of all cropmark sites mapped by the Kent Air Photo Survey project in 1986 and 1987. © Crown copyright.HE

Cropmark Classification Project

The 1:10,000 scale cropmark transcriptions were the raw material used in the development of the APU’s Cropmark Classification Project between 1987 and 1989. Again partly funded by English Heritage, the project’s central aim was to produce a classification system for cropmarks that could be used in the process of identifying sites for protection.

Various site types were classified according to their morphology and compared against known examples.

Comparative plots of enclosures with scale and north arrow
Extract from the 1:10,000 manual mapping of cropmarks. Comparative plots of known and potential neolithic long barrows and mortuary enclosures interpreted from their morphology. © Historic England

Ongoing reconnaissance

The results of the project continue to inform aerial reconnaissance and interpretation in Kent.

Colour aerial photograph showing a field in crop next to a small plantation; a vague circular pattern can be seen
This probable late prehistoric enclosure at West Langdon was photographed on 07-AUG-1998 (NMR 18098/02) © Crown copyright. HE

The key findings from the project can be found in the report:

The Classification of Cropmarks in Kent

The Classification of Cropmarks in Kent

Published 31 July 1989

Report from the Kent air photo survey undertaken by the RCHME, a pilot for the National Mapping Programme.

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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