National Mapping Programme Projects

The National Mapping Programme (NMP) has been developed by English Heritage (now Historic England) for identifying, mapping and recording archaeological sites and landscapes from aerial photographs and other airborne remote sensed data such as lidar.

Photo SitingValuable potential historic environment information is contained within aerial photographs for periods from the Neolithic period to the Cold War. It can be seen above the ground as earthworks or structures and buried remains can be revealed as cropmarks or soilmarks.

Millions of aerial photographs are held for England by archives such as the Historic England Archive, Cambridge University and local sources such as the Historic Environment Record (HER).

The NMP methodology and standards developed by English Heritage (now Historic England) provide the means for expert aerial photograph interpreters to interpret and record this information to a consistent standard. Each National Mapping Programme project examines all readily available aerial photographs and remote sensing data for a specified area. Depending on this size of the project area, this can easily number into the tens of thousands of aerial photographs.

The best way to provide a synthesis of such a large amount of archaeological information is in the form of a map, with accompanying descriptions of all recorded sites and landscapes in the HER.

In this way, the NMP projects enhance  our understanding of past land use through identification and analysis of previously unrecorded archaeological landscapes and improving the information held for monuments already recorded on the HER. This information can then be used by Devon County Council Historic Environment team for research and management of change in the historic environment.

Several National Mapping Programme projects have surveyed areas of Devon and where available, highlight reports can be downloaded from the Historic England summary webpages for each completed project.

WWII Pillbox south-west of Axminster

The Historic Environment team is now working with Historic England, AC Archaeology and the Blackdown Hills AONB on a new project centred on the distinctive landscape of the Blackdown Hills; further information is available on the Historic England project page.

More information on the National Mapping Programme can be found on Historic England’s National Mapping Programme webpages.