Wiltshire Museum to carry out aerial laser survey

An image obtained by light detection and ranging - generic image The survey technique uses millions of pulses of harmless laser energy beamed down from an aircraft

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A museum has been awarded £10,000 in lottery funding to carry out an aerial laser survey of a Wiltshire town.

Bradford on Avon Museum is hoping to reveal the hidden history of the area using a survey technique called LiDAR (light detection and ranging).

A laser mounted on a plane will be used to draw a detailed model of the landscape between the town and Winsley.

A spokesman for the museum said: "We are fully expecting to discover at least one new Roman villa."

The grant was awarded to the museum by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its All Our Stories programme.

According to a museum spokesman, the laser scans will be used to reveal details not visible on the ground or from aerial photography.

'Unrecorded settlements'

"It can show up quite small differences in the land surface and can even penetrate to the ground through the canopy of trees, giving details that could be impossible to see otherwise," he said.

"We expect to gain a new insight into features of the geology and natural history of the area, as well as of the archaeology and historical land use."

Roy Canham, a museum trustee and former county archaeologist, said he was "delighted" by the funding.

"It's a nine-sq-km area of ancient landscape," he said.

"We're hoping to see signs of how ancient fields were laid out and how the lanes and tracks connected those fields.

"And with a hill fort and Roman villa nearby we're hoping to find areas of settlements previously unrecorded."

The aerial survey is due to take place around Bradford on Avon at the beginning of next year.

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