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Oxford University to create prehistoric map of England

The ‘Portal to the Past’ project from the University of Oxford is creating a prehistoric map of England, allowing users to discover their local history from the Bronze Age in 1500BC to the Domesday Book in 1086.

The project is being funded by the European Research council, costing £1.8 million and will compile data into a digital archive on the prehistoric past.

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The team leader Professor Chris Gosden, in a statement said that local history is one of the most popular internet searches, the project seeks to take advantage of public interest by enabling visitors to unravel their localised history over the past 3,500 years. At status quo, parish records will only show up results of up to 1,000 years ago.

Data will be gathered from several sources. Amongst myriad resources include English Heritage aerial photographs showing ancient sites of interest, information from developers carrying out archaeological research on sites before building work begins, county archives, and even private research by museums and individuals.

In order to harness the information into one platform, the project team will work closely with the British Museum, the Archaeology Date Service and local history experts. Professor Gosden commented that bringing these information into one centralised portal will reveal how the landscape of England has changed over the years.

Professor Gosden said “England is extraordinary in the level of potential information about the ancient landscape. We hope this project will provide an in-depth analysis of the whole of England, so we can glean new insights into how the landscape has changed and developed.”

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He added that the project will add a wealth of knowledge on the overall landscape development of England over the past 3,500 years.

 “Until now we have had fragments of information about landscape use during this period but this project allows us to form a bigger picture of overall patterns and regional variations within England.”

University of Oxford

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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