Sutton Park as Never Seen Before
A LiDAR survey to assist future management and protection of this nationally important historic landscape consisted of measurement of the reflection of laser beams sent from an aircraft. The laser can penetrate tree cover, so produces an image showing the ground surface under trees rather than the tree canopy visible on aerial photographs, and measures at least four points within each square metre, recording differences in ground level of as little as 15cm.
The survey provided a detailed record of archaeological remains that were already known but obscured by vegetation, such as the banks and ditches subdividing the medieval deer park and the quarry pits alongside the Roman road, and revealed many previously unrecorded features. These included embanked pits, possibly used in the production of whitecoal, ridges indicating former cultivation, former field boundaries, earthworks that may be related to the Roman road, and two possible prehistoric burnt mounds.
Pollen preserved in peat provides information on past vegetation cover in the Park. Analysis of pollen in peat up to 0.9m deep in the Longmoor Valley showed that in the past alder grew around the edge of the peat and there was mixed woodland with pine, birch, oak and elm on the drier soils around it. Trees, probably pine, have been found under the peat. The date of the pollen is not known but by comparison with other parts of England probably dates to at least 5000 BC. Flint tools found in the Park were used by prehistoric hunters at about this time. Pollen of later date has been removed by cutting peat for fuel, which was taking place in the Park in the 18th century. Augering in other stream valleys in the Park such as Plants Brook revealed well-preserved peat over 0.6m deep which has not been affected by peat cutting, and should therefore contain pollen of later date which can be related to the evidence provided by the well-preserved archaeological remains for human activity from the Bronze Age onwards
Detailed reports and data are accessible through the Archaeology Data Service
Last Updated : 4th September 2013