ANCIENT woodland near Silchester is being excavated in order to reveal its prehistoric past.
A series of six or more previously unknown prehistoric monuments have been discovered by University of Reading archaeologists in Pamber Forest, using aerial survey techniques.
Partial outlines of the monuments were found by the team through the examination of enhanced LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) images, by aerial interpreter Krysia Truscoe.
The images provide a view of ground topography, despite the heavily forested nature of the site.
Research manager Dr Catherine Barnett said excavation and analysis of the forest sites were essential in gaining an understanding of the nature of prehistoric homes, farms, mortuary sites and routeways.
She said: “A tremendous amount of information has already been uncovered and celebrated thanks to past research spanning nearly 20 years under the Silchester Town Life Project, led by Prof Michael Fulford and Amanda Clarke in the nearby town of Silchester, where the Roman city walls and amphitheatre are now actively preserved and open to the public.
“We are hoping that this new phase of research will provide insights into what life and landscape was like beyond the city walls and how that enabled the establishment of this important urban centre.”
The discovery prompted Dr Barnett and Prof Michael Fulford to approach the Englefield Estate to request permission for ground investigations, including limited excavation of the ecologically and archaeologically sensitive sites.
Richard Edwards, head of forestry at the Englefield Estate, said: “Our involvement, as stewards of the woodland with the wildlife trust, is to ensure that any research work is carried out sensitively.
“Our hope is that the ongoing studies by the team at Reading University’s archaeology department will enhance our understanding of this ancient woodland.”
More than a third of the 1,400 hectares of woodland on the Englefield Estate is designated as ancient woodland by Natural England.