Geophysics uncovers Moor than meets the eye

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We’ve been working with former RAF pilot, John Lowe and Jane Marchand, senior archaeologist with DNPA, to look more closely at the site of a second world war bomber crash. John has been investigating this fatal crash for some time, undertaking much detective work to find out more about the pilot and crew involved. Through his hard work he has met many people with stories to tell and built up a picture of the tragic events of that night. A memorial stone was erected by the pilots mother, Lady Marjorie Wilson to mark the site.
John wanted to get a better idea of where the aircraft crashed so we commissioned a geophysical survey of the area, undertaken by a company called Substrata. This is a non invasive survey which allows us to see into the ground without disturbing it. Using a magnetometer allows us to see using “magnetic eyes” which means we can pick up magnetic changes in the soil due to the heat of the crash. You may have seen John and the geophysics team doing this on Countryfile a few weeks ago when they came to Dartmoor.
We’ll publish the results of the survey online once we have the final report.
Meanwhile if you would like to know more we have organised an illustrated talk by John which will take place at the Church House, Widecombe-in-the-Moor on Thursday 12th November at 7.30pm
Find out about this project by looking at a summary of it here

“LiDAR has revolutionised the way we discover features in the landscape. In the past we walked in a line through the woods trying to spot historic features in the undergrowth. Now we are able to look at LiDAR and work out a grid reference of possible features and by using GPS walk straight to the features”

– Reg Lander, one of the East Dartmoor NNR ‘History Hunters’

017One of the great things about this scheme is the opportunity to use new technology to look at familiar places with the chance it will reveal new insights into these landscapes. Last year, using a technique called LiDAR we surveyed the woodland areas of East Dartmoor NNR, Fernworthy, Bellever and Soussons in search of hidden landscapes. Volunteers at East Dartmoor NNR are the first to get to grips with these LiDAR images which show the land stripped of its trees and reveal signs of tin working, charcoal making and pillow mounds. Over time they will search the LiDAR looking for signs of other heritage features and then go out on the ground to verify what is there.
We hope to do this at Fernworthy, Bellever and Soussons over the coming months. If you would like to get involved please get in touch.

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