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Secrets of the High Woods Research

Secrets of the High Woods Research

The Secrets of the High Woods project was a unique opportunity to investigate the wooded estates of West Sussex and a part of Hampshire using airborne laser scanning, field survey and archival research.

The amount of new data has provided a wealth of opportunity for project volunteers and independent researchers to undertake research that has contributed to improving our overall understanding of the project area.

A large amount of information is publically available through the Historic Environment Records, the National Mapping Programme and the LiDAR interactive map.

Archival Research

Whilst many of our volunteers battled with the elements out in the field verifying the archaeological lumps and bumps of the LiDAR data, an equally determined band of over 30 volunteers were delving deep within the archives to uncover the history behind the findings.

Archives are about people – both the researchers in the present, and the men and women who wrote or handled the documents in the past. It is the interplay of the present and the past that makes the study of documentary evidence so rewarding.

History generally comes from written and visual records; deeds, maps, grants, court records, wills, judgments, photographs, art work and other historical documents and records from the past. Many official documents reside in the county record offices and other state and family archives, which is where our volunteer researchers have spent many hours over the past year.

The stories that they have been developing have been rooted in the LiDAR findings and follow on from the archaeological narratives we have uncovered.

Independent Researchers

Active archaeological research is being undertaken by a number of archaeological groups, universities and independent researchers within the South Downs National Park and more specifically within the project area, examples include:

National Mapping Programme (NMP)

The NMP is an English Heritage initiative which aims to enhance the understanding of past human settlement, by providing primary information and synthesis for all archaeological sites and landscapes visible on aerial photographs or other airborne remote sense data.

The report ‘South Downs National Park The High Woods from above NMP’ includes a discussion of the most significant aspects of the areas in term of periods of time and types of sites and identify the periods and types of sites that are still puzzling and would benefit from further study.

The High Woods from above – National Mapping Programme

Secrets of the High Woods – research agenda from 2017 to 2022.

Now that the ground-truthing fieldwork is completed and the NMP report has been published a review has been undertaken of the research agenda for topics not resolved in the project.

This report identifies priorities for the next stage of research that will underpin further research in the future. These will be incorporated into the SDNP Research Agenda and shared with potential partners in the higher education sector.

If you wish to undertake a research project with the South Downs National Park please complete the Research project application form and return to research@southdowns.gov.uk .

We are also happy to discuss potential placement opportunities with you so again, please email research@southdowns.gov.uk and we will endeavour to respond to you within five working days.

A general bibliography



"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."