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Vale of York National Mapping Programme project

The Vale of York NMP project covered 1,675 square kilometres of low-lying land between the Magnesian Limestone and the Yorkshire Wolds. Its northern limit was the Howardian Hills and it went as far south as the rivers Aire and Humber. The survey was undertaken because intensive aerial reconnaissance over many years had shown the area to be rich in archaeology. This archaeology was also under threat both from deep ploughing and piecemeal development around villages. The project provided data that greatly enhanced the national and local records. It has since been used to inform planning decisions and further research.

Colour aerial photograph showing an area of woodland with some small ponds within, surrounded by arable fields
Skipwith Common in North Yorkshire, as seen here on 21-MAR-2007,  is one of the last remaining areas of lowland heath in northern England (NMR 20647/40) © Historic England

Iron Age and Roman field systems

The landscape within the Vale has actively been used and farmed throughout prehistory to the present day. Extensive ditched field systems and settlements, dating to the late Iron Age and Roman periods, were revealed as cropmarks. These were recorded along with some rare earthwork survivals of enclosures on Allerthorpe and Skipwith Commons, the latter of which can be seen in the image below. It is the fact that the site mirrors cropmark enclosures nearby that suggests it may be a rare survival from the Iron Age or Roman periods.

Colour aerial photograph showing a square enclosure formed of banks and ditches set in woodland
Rectilinear earthwork enclosure on the edge of Skipwith Common, photographed on 22-MAR-1999 (NMR 17265/11). © Crown copyright. HE

Roman military sites and road network

The results of the project mapping and analysis enabled a review of the evidence for Roman military forts and camps and the infrastructure of roads and roadside settlements that converge on the important Roman town of York. Evidence for the position of the road on both sides of the River Derwent helps to locate the probable Roman bridging point.

Colour aerial photograph showing an arable field with a number of lines seen as dark green lines on a mainly paler background
South of Stamford Bridge, cropmarks photographed on  20-JUL-1995 provide evidence of a large settlement alongside the road to York (NMR 12705/30). © Crown copyright. HE

Post-medieval rabbit farming

An unusual and relatively rare cruciform earthwork structure was discovered on low-lying ground at Wheldrake Ings. Its function is uncertain, but the favoured interpretation is a pillow mound, associated with rabbit farming in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Colour aerial photograph showing a flooded landscape with a cross-shaped bank on one of the islands rising out of the water
These cross-shaped earthworks seen on flooded marginal land at Wheldrake Ings on 22-MAR-1999 have been interpreted as an artificial rabbit warren (NMR 17265/03) © Crown copyright. HE

Key findings from the project can be found in the Vale of York National Mapping Programme report:

Vale of York National Mapping Programme Project Review

Vale of York National Mapping Programme Project Review

Published 1 October 2001

This report details the background, aims and objectives, methodology and resources of the Vale of York NMP 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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Group of people standing on a stony mound
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