Historic Wyre Forest

Wyre Forest Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)

Using the map browser you can explore the landscape of Wyre Forest and its setting to look at the results of a three year project to map and record archaeological surface features across the wooded landscape of Wyre and its surroundings.

Explore the landscape of Wyre Forest and its setting

What is LiDAR?

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is an aerial method of topographic survey that can be applied to produce highly detailed three-dimensional surface models of the landscape. Developed originally as a military mapping technique, Lidar has since been adapted for civilian applications; notably for flood risk modelling and landscape survey.

It was soon recognised that LiDAR could contribute towards the cannon of survey methods employed in landscape archaeology. Perhaps, nowhere has this been applied more successful than in revealing the historic landscapes hidden under extensive areas of forest. To date, Lidar surveys have been carried out in a number of wooded landscapes including the Forest of Dean, Savernake Forest, Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, Neroche and, of course, Wyre Forest.

The LiDAR survey of Wyre was carried out by a light aircraft that flew a systematic survey over the project area in March 2007. The aircraft was fitted with survey equipment that emits a dense pattern of lasers towards the ground surface. The lasers are reflected back to the aircraft with each laser recording a point in three-dimensional space.

As this data is collected it builds up to create a digital map of the ground surface. Over woodland, many of the lasers are reflected from the tree canopy. However, given the high density of lasers emitted, many penetrate the canopy to reach the forest floor. A computer process then virtually removes the woodland canopy to reveal surface detail that would otherwise be invisible at a landscape scale.

The LiDAR survey has been an outstanding success. Over 2000 surface features of archaeological potential have been recorded across an area of 72 square kilometres. A team of volunteers has been actively checking the results on the ground and adding valuable extra information into the Historic Environment Record.

Examples of LiDAR

Two LiDAR images of Wassall Wood near Trimpley illustrating how the tree cover can be removed to reveal the woodland landscape:

LiDAR survey showing tree cover

LiDAR survey showing tree cover

Tree cover removed revealing Iron Age enclosure

Tree cover removed revealing Iron Age enclosure