This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Lower Wharfedale National Mapping Programme project

The Lower Wharfedale National Mapping Programme (NMP) aerial survey project was carried out in partnership with West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (WYAS). It covered an area of 1,100 square kilometres, mostly lying within West Yorkshire but also small parts of North and South Yorkshire. The mapping linked the Yorkshire Dales NMP and Vale of York NMP projects. This completed the NMP mapping of the whole of a major river valley from source to sea.

Colour aerial photograph showing pasture fields with a large banked enclosure in the middle.
"Round Dikes" enclosure, West Yorkshire photographed on 18-OCT-2007. The enclosure of probable Iron Age date survives as a substantial earthwork in pasture and (NMR 20705/21). © Historic England

Varying topographies

A broad range of geographical regions was covered by the project. Each of these has shaped past settlement of the landscape and today influences the survival of archaeological features.

In the west lie the Millstone Grit uplands and moors. Here numerous monuments dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages survive as earthworks. These include cairns, two embanked stone circles and the impressive enclosures of Woofa Bank and Round Dikes.

As the River Wharfe flows eastwards from its source in the Yorkshire Dales, its valley gradually shallows. This part of the valley contains designed landscapes, such as that surrounding Harewood House. Further south and east the pasture fields give way to arable agriculture. There are also the extensive open cast mines and spoil heaps of the Westphalian coal measures.

Colour aerial photograph showing upland moorland with a stone structure cut by a winding path
The excavated and partially reconstructed remains of a Bronze Age enclosed settlement on Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire, photographed on 12-MAR-2009 (NMR 20871/06). © Historic England

The Magnesian Limestone belt

The eastern part of the project area is defined by a geology of Magnesian Limestone. This is part of the Magnesian Limestone belt that runs up much of the eastern half of England. This region is characterised by gently rolling terrain and well drained soils. These factors greatly assist in the formation of cropmarks. For this reason, the area has been a focus for aerial archaeologists for over 40 years.

The project mapped extensive coaxial field systems with associated enclosures and trackways, of probable Iron Age/Roman date. Other sites mapped on the limestone include a Roman villa at Dalton Parlours and the ritual landscape of Ferrybridge Henge.

This mapping has been combined with the aerial photograph mapping from the Magnesian Limestone NMP project. Together these form the aerial survey section for the Magnesian Limestone in South and West Yorkshire Archaeological Mapping and Assessment Project.

Colour aerial photo showing arable fields with various features seen as dark green lines against a mainly paler background
Cropmarks photographed on 14-JUL-2006 reveal Iron Age/Roman trackways, field boundaries and enclosures at Ledston, West Yorkshire (NMR 20566/11). © Historic England

The key findings from the project can be found in the Lower Wharfedale National Programme Project report:

Lower Wharfedale National Mapping Programme Project, Summary Report

Lower Wharfedale National Mapping Programme Project, Summary Report

Published 1 April 2004

NMP report from the Lower Wharfedale 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.

Was this page helpful?


Group of people standing on a stony mound
Historic Places Investigation

Research Group

Also of interest...