Bluesky Aerial Laser Survey set to Reveal Hidden Bronze-Age Archaeology

Leicestershire, UK, 12 November 2015 LiDAR is being employed to reveal the hidden archaeology of a Bronze-Age hill settlement in Lancashire, England. Visually, the archaeological features are very difficult to see, but the Bluesky laser survey, commissioned by the Morecambe Bay Partnership, is expected to reveal previously undiscovered details of the settlement at Warton Crag. Identified as an important Heritage at Risk site, the site has already been subject to low level archaeological investigations, which have identified remains from a small, well defended hill fort.

It is imperative that we get a better definition of the archaeological remains that are currently hidden by the dense vegetation cover, commented Louise Martin, H2H Cultural Heritage Officer at the Morecambe Bay Partnership. This will enable us to develop conservation strategies for the site and work towards reducing the risk to the archaeological remains. The site is currently on Historic Englands at risk register, so this work is crucial in developing partnerships and strategies to protect the monument for future generations.

Morecambe Bay Partnership commissioned the Bluesky laser survey as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Headlands to Headspace initiative, which is designed to improve the understanding of Morecambe Bays natural and cultural heritage and help conserve that heritage for future generations. The Bluesky LiDAR system uses lasers to accurately measure the earths terrain and record features on the ground in 3D. The dedicated survey plane is also equipped with aerial photography equipment, and will fly over the site during the winter months when the tree and canopy cover is at its minimum.

Working with Bluesky, utilising their state of the art LiDAR system and proven experience in this field, we hope to reveal previously undiscovered details, added Martin. The laser equipment provides a fast and cost effective method of capturing highly accurate measurements of the entire site and its surroundings with minimum impact on a nationally important wildlife conservation site, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Bluesky will process the millions of individual laser measurements to create detailed 3D computer models of the earths relief a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and ground surface including buildings and vegetation a Digital Surface Model (DSM). The 25cm resolution models created by Bluesky are compatible with all leading Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), allowing Morecambe Bay Partnership to understand the 3D data in the context of existing mapping, model different scenarios and strategies and share information with project partners.

In order to capture highly accurate LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data a survey aircraft equipped with a system of lasers is used. Lasers are transmitted to the ground and the time taken for the beam to be bounced back to the aircraft-mounted receivers is recorded. Using the known position of the aircraft (derived from on-board satellite positioning equipment), the time taken for the return of the laser beam and the known value of the speed of light, the distance between the aircraft and ground is calculated. Readings can also be taken to determine the height of buildings, vegetation and other surface structures such as above ground pipelines, highways, street furniture, power lines and railway tracks.

About Bluesky
Bluesky is a UK-based specialist in aerial survey including aerial photography, LiDAR and thermal data using the very latest survey technology, including two UltraCam Eagles and an Orion M300 LiDAR system. An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigious organisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies. Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography and maintains national off the shelf coverage of aerial photography, DTM and DSM through an on-going three-year update programme. By purchasing a world first sensor for the simultaneous capture of LiDAR, Thermal and Aerial Photography data, Bluesky is in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and cost effective solutions. Bluesky is also leading the way in developing innovative solutions for environmental applications, including the UKs first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping and citywide heat loss maps, and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products.

About Morecambe Bay Partnership
Morecambe Bay Partnership is a small team making big things happen in the Morecambe Bay area. It is a place based organisation with the aim of securing resources that will bring jobs and growth to the area. The Partnerships target for the next five years is to secure 10m of investment that will create or safeguard over 8,000 jobs, increasing visitor numbers by 3 percent equating to an increase in the visitor economy of Morecambe Bay of 15m. The Partnerships project delivery focuses on the conservation, understanding and celebration of the natural and cultural heritage of Morecambe Bay; boosting the visitor economy of the Bay; and ensuring its beaches and bathwaters are of the highest quality.

About Headlands to Headspace
Headlands to Headspace is a major new initiative seeking to transform the way people think about Morecambe Bay. The Scheme seeks to make the Bays rich cultural and natural heritage a key driver in boosting the Bays economy. Over the next four years, 28 projects will be delivered in a joined up way across four themes: conservation – build and natural heritage, access, community participation and training.