Breaking New Ground

Reconnecting People with The Brecks

Pepper Clump Barrows © NCC

Pepper Clump Barrows © NCC

The Brecks from Above

Brecks from Above was devised to provide baseline archaeological data for a proportion of the LPS and promote a greater understanding of and engagement with aerial photography. The Brecks is known to have high potential for recording earthwork sites, in a region of the country where such remains are rare. In addition, the forestry plantations and heathland vegetation which dominate the Breckland landscape, while preserving such remains, often also hide them, making them difficult to identify, or to record or locate accurately. Furthermore, ground disturbance caused by forestry operations and heathland restoration can threaten heritage features, especially when such features are undiscovered, or poorly located. Finally, the project sought to exploit the potential of locally accessible aerial photographic sources to record the historic environment, and to take advantage of the results of the BNG project C6: Revealing the Landscape (Lidar).

The Brecks from Above project comprised of an archaeological survey of c. 75 sq km, mapping and recording archaeological features using locally accessible aerial photographs and the results of the new LiDAR survey as the main sources. The principal products are a digital map of the archaeological features, and new and updated records for Norfolk and Suffolk Historic Environment Record (HER) databases. The methodology was based upon Historic England's National Mapping Programme (NMP) standards, but using amore limited range of sources. However, due to Historic England (HE) providing separate funding, and loaning photographs from the Historic England Archive(HEA), a Breckland NMP project has been running concurrently with the Brecks from Above work. Over a longer timescale, with an anticipated completion date in October 2017, it will be possible to expand the project area (to 96 sq km), and bring the mapping up to NMP standard by using a more extensive range of sources.

See the LIDAR map of the Brecks.

The Brecks from Above mapping has made a very significant contribution to the baseline knowledge of the heritage of the Brecks. It has identified, and enhanced our understanding of, a wide variety of sites ranging in date from the Neolithic to the Cold War. It has identified 187 new records for the Norfolk and Suffolk HERs, representing an increase of 27% within the area surveyed; it has also identified 2 amendments for a further 164 entries. It has created a digital archaeological map covering c. 75 sq km, equivalent to 32% of the BNG LPS core area. The work has provided baseline locational and interpretative data that will facilitate planning, management, preservation and research decisions concerning the historic environment of the project area at every level, from strategic planning and national designation to local interventions, site visits and research.


  • Air photo and LiDAR mapping work will continue as part of Historic England funded ‘Breckland NMP Project’, potentially up to the value of £54,970.
  • Staff commitment to provide digitised copies of air photos on request for the next 10 years.
  • Continued support for trained volunteers over the next 3 years

I am a complete beginner at aerial photography, so this event has opened up many possibilities for me

Day School Attendee