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New Forest Remembers National Mapping Programme

The New Forest Remembers National Mapping Programme component was part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project run by the New Forest National Park Authority.  

The project improved community involvement in remembering, researching and promoting understanding of the role of the New Forest during the Second World War.

The National Mapping Programme component provided important baseline data for the project GIS and the Hampshire Historic Environment Record using aerial photographs taken during and after the Second World War.

Newly commissioned airborne laser scanning (lidar)  provided key information on areas hidden from the air under the trees.

Colour map with lots of red and green dots against a background contour map
Distribution map for all 4,316  sites recorded during the New Forest Remembers NMP project

Project background

Whilst the New Forest is recognised for its wildlife and heritage landscape, the important role it played in the Second World War is less well-known.

Being relatively unpopulated and with wide tracts of both open heathland and forestry, it provided an ideal location for military training. Its strategic position, close to the south coast made it crucial in a range of military operations and home to a wide range of military installations, as well as the storage of supplies and equipment. 

Whilst some of the installations are still visible today, many were of only a temporary nature and were removed within only a few years of the war ending.  Others have since been obscured or destroyed by subsequent land management activities.

It was recognised by the NFNPA that the available archaeological records provided details of only a small proportion of the actual sites and artefacts that were present in the forest.

Similarly, there was a wealth of untapped information about the Second World War activities in the memories of those who were living in the New Forest at the time, whether they be evacuees, local residents, or military personnel either from this country or from abroad.

Black and white vertical aerial photograph
Ashley Walk high explosive range, Godshill, photographed on 27-APR-1947 showing target pens, line target and impact craters (RAF/CPE/UK/2038 Frame 4151). Historic England RAF Photography

The New Forest Remembers (NFR) project was set up to address the lack of survey work, knowledge and understanding about the New Forest’s role in the Second World War. It aimed to bring the war years alive for a wide range of people including residents, visitors, school children and community groups, offering a wide range of volunteering opportunities for those who might wish to be further involved.

In addition, data from the project would address the lack of information in the Hampshire Archaeology and Historic Buildings Record (AHBR) relating to the military use of the NFNP.

The NFR project was divided into four phases.

Phase 1 was a desk-based assessment of the New Forest area as a precursor to the larger field survey element of the project. This NMP project formed a key element of the Phase 1 assessment and used blanket lidar data flown especially for the project as well as conventional aerial photographs.

Colour image showing a stylised landscape with a wall/fence and tracks. Central to the image is a subcircular enclosure
Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age enclosure at Longwater Lawn. Lidar: © Cornwall Council 2013 based on Cambridge University Technical Services and New Forest National Park Authority data 2011

Project results

Despite relatively few specialist oblique photographs being available for the project area, the project resulted in a significant enhancement to existing baseline data through the mapping, interpretation and recording of 4,316 archaeological sites, of which 3,823 (89%) were new sites, previously unrecorded in the local Historic Environment Records (HERs) or Historic England's database AMIE.

Ninety four percent of all sites mapped were recorded as earthworks or partially extant earthworks and extant structures. This is a very high proportion and is related to the availability of blanket lidar cover for the project area: it is estimated that over 90% of sites plotted were visible or partially visible on the lidar derived imagery. This NMP project has clearly demonstrated the value of lidar survey, especially in areas of open woodland and scrub.

In addition, large numbers of sites dating to the Second World War were identified from historic photographs taken by the RAF during and immediately after the war.

The mapping therefore has greatly improved our knowledge of the archaeological resource by providing a fuller awareness of the range and extent of archaeological remains within the project area. The enhanced awareness of the archaeological resource will facilitate management of the area’s historic environment on a site specific as well as a strategic level.

NMP mapping seen as black lines marking out features against a pale grey map background
NMP mapping of the Ashley Walk practice bombing range, No.2 Wall Target, Godshill © Historic England

The NMP mapping and monument records are available from the Hampshire Historic Environment Record.  The NMP report is available to download here.

The National Mapping Programme: New Forest Remembers

The National Mapping Programme: New Forest Remembers

Published 17 July 2014

A report on the aerial survey of the New Forest as part of the New Forest Remembers 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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