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Yorkshire Dales National Mapping Programme project

The Yorkshire Dales National Mapping Programme (NMP) and Howgill Fells NMP were multi-disciplinary projects, using aerial and ground-based survey techniques. The projects aimed to look at ways of rapidly enhancing the archaeological record for an upland area. They built on methodologies for aerial photograph interpretation and survey from mapping projects for Kent and Dartmoor. The Yorkshire Dales project was a pilot for the National Mapping Programme.

Colour aerial photograph showing upland moorland with several large gullies cutting through the landscape
The earthwork remains of Tanner Rake Hush Mine, part of a complex lead mining industry in the region, photographed on 29-NOV-1999 (NMR 17410/03). © Historic England

Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales NMP was carried out by staff from the National Archaeological Record and the Air Photography Unit of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). Respectively these are now part of the Historic England Archive and Remote Sensing teams.

The project was carried out between 1988 and 1992, and an internal report on the aerial survey was completed in 1995. The project covered all of North Yorkshire west of the OS 420000 line (which runs through Richmond and Otley). It was later extended to include the part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park that lies within Cumbria. This formed the Howgill Fells NMP Project described below. The total area surveyed was approximately 3,000 square kilometres.

The National Archaeological Record (now available as part of PastScape) was enhanced by information taken from First Edition Ordnance Survey (OS) 6-inch maps and the English Place-Names Society volumes. This has led to an integrated database of 15,500 records for the project area.

Colour aerial photograph showing snow covered fields divided by stone walls. Within the fields are traces of earth banks
The earthwork remains of Walburn medieval village, highlighted by a covering of light snow on 25-JAN-1993 (NMR 12348/11). © Crown copyright. HE

All photographs available through the National Monuments Record, the North Yorkshire Sites and Monuments Record and the Yorkshire Dales National Park were consulted. The aerial photo interpretation and mapping produced 143 inked plans at 1:10,560 scale. These act as overlays to the available OS base maps. A database of 18,249 records was also created. This data has not yet been integrated within the NRHE database however.

The recorded information covers all periods from prehistory through to the 20th century. Extensive field systems and related settlements are the most striking features, along with major remains of the lead industry. Most of the features were recorded as earthworks, stone structures or ruined buildings. Only those structures that had clearly gone out of use, such as ruined barns and grassed over quarries, were recorded. An unpublished two-volume illustrated report summarises the data from the aerial photo interpretation and forms part of the project archive.

Colour map with archaeological features drawn in red against a greyscale Ordnance Survey background
An NMP hand-drawn plan of medieval settlement remains at Walburn. © Historic England © Crown Copyright and database right 2010. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100019088.

Howgill Fells

The Howgill Fells NMP project began in June 1992 as an extension to the Yorkshire Dales NMP project. Its aim was to complete the archaeological mapping of the whole area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The full extent of 15 Ordnance Survey map sheets, covering the entirety of the National Park in Cumbria, were mapped. The mapping was carried out at 1:10,560 scale, and to the same standards as the Yorkshire Dales Project.

The transcriptions were used as the basis of a 1993 Rapid Identification Survey by the RCHME Field Survey Team from Newcastle. About 12 sites were identified for more detailed survey, undertaken over the autumn and winter of 1993-4. A short paper, 'Recent archaeological fieldwork in the Howgill Fells by the RCHME', was published in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society: Volume 96 (1996).

Colour aerial photograph showing a view over some hills stretching off into the distance
View over the Howgill Fells, taken on 27-JUL-1999 (NMR 17341/14). © Historic England

The key findings from the project can be found in the Yorkshire Dales Mapping Project report:

The Yorkshire Dales Mapping Project

The Yorkshire Dales Mapping Project

Published 30 June 1995

Report from the Yorkshire Dales Mapping Project, a pilot for the National Mapping Programme

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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