Leadon Valley ALSF National Mapping Programme project
The Leadon Valley had a very low density of known archaeology for an area identified as a potential sand and gravel extraction area in regional plans. The aim of the project was to increase the amount and improve the quality of archaeological records. This means that the planning system has the information to make better decisions.
The results of the project
The Leadon Valley ALSF project was carried out by staff at Gloucestershire County Council to National Mapping Programme standards as part of a broader programme of survey projects within Gloucestershire. Prior to the project the archaeological remains from the later prehistoric, early medieval and modern periods were particularly poorly understood, though several significant medieval sites were known. The Valley has not been extensively covered by reconnaissance but aerial photographs did show potential for cropmark formation. The project area covered 126 square kilometres, in a 5km wide strip. A total of 187 new records were added to what is now the The National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) and are available as part of PastScape; an additional 25 existing records were also revised. This means that the NMP survey resulted in a 103% increase in the number of records for the area for which the NHRE holds data.
Many of the sites identified are medieval or post-medieval in date; settlements and the remains of agricultural land use are the most common site types. These include old field boundaries, deserted settlements (often referred to as DMVs) and moated sites. Moats are usually thought of as being for defence, but they also had other uses such as fishponds, ornamental features or for watering stock. Most moated sites were originally manor houses or monastic granges, with their origins in the late 12th to early 14th centuries.
There were also a number of flood defences and water meadows recorded along the River Leadon. Charcoal burning was common in this area, and a number of charcoal platforms were recorded. These were seen where woodland had been cleared, and the dark areas of charcoal show in newly ploughed fields.
Second World War military sites
The Leadon Valley is a rather quiet and rural location today, but one of the key themes of the National Mapping Programme is that hardly any part of the country was unaffected by the Second World War. There were a number of military sites concentrated around Highnam. These included both training sites and military camps from the earlier part of the war, as well as United States Army tented camps and military hospitals which were constructed in the build-up to D-Day.
The key findings from the project can be found in the report:
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