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Till Tweed: A National Mapping Programme project

The Till Tweed National Mapping Programme (NMP) project mapped and recorded archaeology from aerial photographs. It was carried out in partnership with West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (WYAS) and funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF). The project covered 162.5 square kilometres of Northumberland. It consisted of two separate blocks following the rivers Till (Breamish in its upper reaches) and Tweed.

Colour aerial photograph showing a field in crop with some darker lines on a yellow background marking out an enclosure
A later prehistoric or Romano-British rectilinear enclosure and internal features. The site is visible as cropmarks at East Moneylaws in the Tweed Valley, photographed on 19-JUL-2013. (NMR 28450/29) © Historic England

Contrasting landscapes

Till block

The majority of sites mapped in the Till block were recorded as earthworks, although many have since been wholly or partly levelled. A large number of Iron Age enclosures and settlements were recorded, including several hillforts or defended enclosures. Of the cropmark sites recorded in this block, the complex at New Bewick is perhaps one of the most significant. This is due to the large number of early medieval sunken featured buildings or Grubenhaüser

Tweed block

In the Tweed block sites there were more sites recorded as cropmarks. There is again evidence for a number of Iron Age defended enclosures. Cropmarks were sometimes so clear that palisade trenches were visible. Several fragmentary field systems were mapped, some of which showed a combination of ditch and pit defined elements.

Historic Royal Air Force (RAF) photography from the early 1940s showed extensive military remains centred on Berwick-upon-Tweed. These included an army camp, firing ranges and numerous anti-invasion defences.

Map showing relief and location of forts around Old Berwick
View looking south-west across the Old Bewick forts (Till Block) and up the Breamish Valley. The digital elevation model was created from Ordnance Survey Land-Form Profile data. © Crown Copyright. Licence Number: GD03085G.

Landscape analysis

This project has drawn together information from over 4,500 photographs, existing records and the local expertise of Tim Gates. This was used to produce an accurate digital map of the visible archaeology for large areas of Northumberland.

This map is enhanced by layers of data containing information on dating, function, form and the source photographs used. This was useful for planning ground survey investigations and also achieving the wider objectives of the Till-Tweed Geoarchaeology Project. The project has also allowed experimentation with 3D modelling as a tool for understanding archaeological landscapes.

Colour image showing colour coded map background with lots of red and green spots; the key refers to heights and record type
Distribution of new and enhanced records in the Till and Tweed project areas © Historic England

The Till Tweed Geoarchaeology Project

The Till Tweed NMP project was one of four parts of the Till Tweed Geoarchaeology project. This project was funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF).  It was led by Dr Dave Passmore (University of Newcastle) and Dr Clive Waddington (Archaeological Research Services Ltd). The other strands were geoarchaeological evaluation, field-walking and public outreach. Together they will be used to direct future research and management of the project areas. They will also assist in the production of material for getting people interested in the areas’ past.

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.

Till-Tweed ALSF/NMP Project, Northumberland. Summary Report

Till-Tweed ALSF/NMP Project, Northumberland. Summary Report

Published 1 October 2003

This report gives an overview of results from the NMP air photo mapping of the landscapes of the rivers Till and Tweed.

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