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20 September 2014
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Features

Divers at Stourhead
Found anything yet?

Archaeologists don flippers to unlock Stourhead's history

Heather Skull
Flippers, goggles and an oxygen tank not the usual attire of an Archaeologist - until now!

Archaeologists are turning detective in a bid to find out the answers to several mysteries in the grounds of one of Wiltshire's showpiece beauty spots.

Archaeologists from the Nautical Archeology Society are exploring the lake at Stourhead which was artificially created by flooding the valley in the 18th century.

Divers from the Nautical Archaeology Society want to find out what gardens were like before the current design was created by Henry Hoare in the 18th century.

The reason they're so interested in the lake is because it was created by flooding the valley to create the now famous landscape.

Divers at Stourhead
Divers at Stourhead

David Johnston is the project manager for the Nautical Archaeology Society. He says old maps show the site had fishponds in medieval and admits its hard to look for them in the lake. But he said:

"The situation we're dealing with is totally artificial.

This is a totally man made environment and is put on top of an existing medieval landscape including ponds.

We want to know exactly where they were so we can map the old landscape onto the new landscape."

By diving beneath, it's hoped to find out what plant life was like beforehand, and whether it holds any other mysteries.

Archaeologists will have their eyes peeled for the remainder of a Chinese bridge, and the location of a statue of Neptune.

Mr Johnston said the project which is now in its fourth year is making progress:

"Each year we answer a few more questions and raise a few more.

So it's a case of one step forward and two back as more and more mysteries come in."

last updated: 30/05/07
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