The Uplands Archaeology Initiative is the main area of work within field archaeology and has been prompted by the fact that in the unimproved uplands over 244 metres (800 feet) above sea level there exists what is in effect a fossilised landscape rich in remains of all periods. The Uplands account for 40% of the land area of Wales, and some 60% of the Welsh countryside can be described as of Upland character. The project is due to be completed in the second decade of this century, and each year the Royal Commission awards grants to enable teams of archaeologists to record monuments and features in some 150 square kilometres of landscape. Before work on the ground proceeds an archaeologist within the Royal Commission examines all vertical aerial photographs held at the Commission and uses a computer to produce maps of all archaeological features. This aerial mapping both guides archaeologists walking in parallel intervals 40 metres apart across the landscape and helps them understand long linear features such as trackways, artificial watercourses or defunct field-boundaries. Conversely, archaeologists on the ground can identify small features such as stone-built cairns or prehistoric standing-stones that are often too small to be identified from the air. Fieldwork also allows lines on aerial photographs to be interpreted securely and an integrated understanding of upland landscapes to emerge. Field archaeologists from the Royal Commission also survey and interpret in detail some of the more interesting structures and landscapes discovered to improve our understanding of them, and information about the more outstanding sites is passed onto Cadw so that they can be considered for protection as Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
Discover more about the diversity, character and archaeology of upland Wales.