North West RCZAS: The NMP Element of a Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey
The National Mapping Programme (NMP) element of the North West Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey (RCZAS) was carried out in partnership with Archaeological Research Services Ltd.
The survey included the inter-tidal zone and one kilometre inland of the High Water mark, for a stretch of coast extending between the Anglo-Welsh border and Maryport.
The remainder of the coastline, from Maryport to the Solway had previously been mapped as part of the Hadrian’s Wall NMP. The primary aim of the assessment was to enhance the record of the coastal archaeology of north western England and identify sites at short and medium-term risk in the coastal hinterland.
The archaeology of the North-West
The project added or amended over 1,300 records within the National Record for the Historic Environment (NRHE), an increase of over 50% from previously known.
The mapping, which covered an area of over 1600 square kilometres, was completed in summer 2009, and with the Phase 1 desk-based assessment was used to inform and underpin the Phase 2 field survey element of the RCZAS.
The mapped archaeology of the north west coast ranged in date from the Bronze Age to the 20th century. Early features included round barrows, field systems and enclosures, with an emphasis on Roman activity in the north.
The intertidal zone produced evidence of numerous fish traps, some probably medieval in origin associated with the monastic presence on the Lancashire and Cumbrian coastlines.
Although the Hadrian’s Wall frontier was previously mapped as a separate NMP project, the line of defended Roman sites continued down the west coast. Several fell within the study area, the most notable of which was Ravenglass.
The Roman fort here has undergone extensive damage over the years. Not only from erosion caused by the shifting course of the River Esk, but also due to the construction of a railway cutting.
As with most of the English coastline, the majority of features date from the Second World War. Historic vertical RAF photography from the 1940s proved invaluable for mapping these features.
As well as the usual defences along the length of the shoreline, the densest concentrations were in Merseyside, protecting the valuable dockyards. These included anti-aircraft batteries, barrage balloon sites and nearly 4,500 air raid shelters.
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Historic Places Investigation
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