Archaeologists have used cutting edge technology to discover historic sites across Colchester, without leaving their homes.

Lockdown and social distancing has meant many archaeological sites have not been able to work as normal.

However, the Colchester Archaeological Group was determined to continue its work, even if members couldn’t venture outside.

The group has been using data from a new technique called Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging.

It can measure small variations in ground level from an aircraft, which can then be plotted on a map using shades of grey or colour to denote different ground levels.

The technique uses a low power laser which is fired millions of times per second as it rakes the ground below, and is normally done in the winter months when there are few leaves on the trees.

The data has been made available by the UK Environment Department.


Dr Tim Dennis, who worked in computer science at Essex University, has developed a range of image processing software to enhance the images for his fellow group members.

The data can also be used to create a 3D model which can be rotated and viewed in minute detail from all angles.

The team has so far located several unknown or forgotten prehistoric, Roman, medieval and even recent earthworks, together with sections of Roman road in Colchester.

They intend to investigate them once lockdown measures are eased.

Dr Jess Tipper, archaeological advisor for Colchester Council, said: “These are unique and valuable sites, which further our understanding of Colchester’s rich heritage.

“I look forward to adding them to the Colchester Historical Environment Record.”

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