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Account of 11th March 2017 LiDAR Workshop

On Saturday 11th March 2017, we held a LiDAR Workshop for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project. Phil’s account of the day is below:

Welcome to the third in our series of accounts of the activities taking place as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Spa Ponds Heritage Project. The day-long training session was led by David Astbury of MBArchaeology, who treated participants to a presentation that introduced us to the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) for local history research. David is a PhD researcher at the University of Newcastle.

LiDAR Workshop participants

LiDAR Workshop participants. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Part 1

The first part of the morning consisted of a comprehensive explanation of what LiDAR is and how data is obtained, processed, visualised, interpreted and finally transcribed.

Project participants listening intently to David's presentation.

Project participants listening intently to David’s presentation. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is an airborne mapping technique, which uses a laser to measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground. Up to 100,000 measurements per second are made of the ground, allowing highly detailed terrain models to be generated at spatial resolutions of between 25cm and 2 metres.

David’s introduction was similar to that available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBUCGxZq_xg which is a good primer for those who could not attend the workshop.

David explained how the data is based on the number of ‘returns’ from the laser pulses generated by the plane. LiDAR cannot pass through objects such as leaves and tree branches but will pass between such obstacles until it hits the ground.

David explaining how LiDAR works.

David explaining how LiDAR works. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

Examples were given where 4 ‘returns’ would indicate 3 levels of branches with the final return being the ground, thus mapping the height of the tree. This explanation was particularly relevant to our Spa Ponds site being largely tree covered.

LiDAR data is available to the public due to nationwide surveys undertaken by the Environmental Agency to indicate flood risk areas. The data does need quite complicated software to interpret the data but again this is freely available from: http://environment.data.gov.uk/ds/survey/

David continued by explaining, step-by-step, the types of data provided by LiDAR. Two main models use in this field are: the Digital Surface Model (DSM) and the Digital Terrain Model (DTM). DTM has the ability to ‘strip away’ the data collected from tree coverage to reveal the data reflected from the ground only.

Some of the LiDAR images that David shared with us.

Some of the LiDAR images that David shared with us. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

David continued by explaining how data is processed using GIS. The OS provide a helpful explanation of their own at:
https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/support/understanding-gis/what-is-gis-data.html

Simply put, a Geographic Information System (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.

Various levels of data can be placed on top of each other such as LiDAR, maps or aerial photographs. We were shown several examples of GIS output for the Spa Pond area and David explained how three different approaches can give different results. These were Hillshade Aspects, Composite Bands and Slope Data.

Hillshade data was particularly interesting as the software allows the computer to model how the image would adjust when viewed with sunlight approaching the site from several compass points. Composite Bands added colour to the images with each specific colour representing a geographical feature such as flat ground or slope.

David explaining how LiDAR and Google Earth can be used together.

David explaining how LiDAR and Google Earth can be used together. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

David then moved to the Visualisation stage of the interpretation of data, where several sources of information such as LiDAR, Ordinance Survey maps, Google Earth and other aerial photographs, as well as images and information supplied by the Sites and Monument Records (SMR) or the National Monuments Record (NMR) work synergistically together to provide an understanding of the site. In addition to the SMR and NMR we now also have the Historic Environment Records (HER).

LiDAR image of fly over Spa Ponds

LiDAR image of Spa Ponds

David ended the first session with an excellent demonstration of the 3D modelling capability of the software by ‘flying’ us through the Spa Pond site and providing remarkable views of the site from several elevations.

Part 2

An important message in this session was to never rely on LiDAR on its own. LiDAR should be used alongside a variety of sources such as aerial photographs, current and ancient maps, Google Earth images, and SMR/NMR/HER information.

Pondering a LiDAR image.

Pondering a LiDAR image. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

LiDAR will only give data from objects above ground. Data from below ground can be obtained by using Geophysics technology. David recounted examples of wrongly interpreting LiDAR data where excited researchers found Stone Circles that turned out to be Mineral Railway lines and where old Roman roads turned out to be gas pipelines! Unfortunately, areas of ground that have been extensively ploughed in modern times will offer little to LiDAR.

Refreshments on offer

Refreshments on offer thanks to the HLF

Lunch

After lunch David introduced a practical session where he supplied a variety of LiDAR images of the Spa Ponds area. The group split into small working parties to analyse the different images looking for and sharing points of interest. This session was an ideal opportunity to use the skill absorbed during the morning session.

Small groups discussing different LiDAR images.

Small groups discussing different LiDAR images. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

The day was brought to a close with a vote of thanks to David Astbury and MBArchaeology who had prepared and presented an excellent workshop where a particularly complicated scientific process had been presented succesfully to a group of LiDAR beginners. Thanks were also given to members who had enhanced the day by way of providing refreshments and taking photographs.

Upcoming Spa Ponds LIDAR Workshop on Sat 11th March

FTNCG are hosting a LIDAR Workshop this coming Saturday 11th March (10am – 3pm). This free Workshop is made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and will take place at the Flint Avenue Community Centre in Forest Town.

The LIDAR Workshop with David Astbury of MBArchaeology will provide an introduction to the use of LIDAR surveying in archaeology. The Workshop will cover the aims and purpose of LIDAR surveys, how they are undertaken, what they can reveal and how archaeologists use this information. We will also look at the LIDAR results for Spa Ponds and the surrounding area.

If you wish to attend and are not already a registered ‘Project Participant’ or member of the Forest Town Nature Conservation Group then please get in touch with us via spa.ponds@gmail.com to ask about registering in advance of the workshop. 

Those attending are advised to bring a packed lunch and to arrive 15 minutes early (9:45am), so that the Workshop can start promptly at 10am.

Account of 25th February 2017 Research Skills Workshop

On Saturday 25th February 2017 we held a Research Skills Training Workshop for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project. Shlomo’s account of the day is below:

Welcome to the second in our series of accounts of the activities taking place as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Spa Ponds Heritage Project. The day-long training session was led by Matt Beresford of MBArchaeology, who treated participants to a presentation that introduced us to documentary and archival sources for local history research.

Research Skills Workshop participants. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Matt introduced some basic books for budding local historians, including one by Joy Bristow that features a glossary of words and terms that we might come across. For a list of recommended books and other research resources see: http://www.foresttown.net/index.php/heritageproject/research/

Matt teaching us about research skills. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

Matt teaching us about research skills. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

Moving on to more local sources, Matt recommended ‘The History of Mansfield and It’s Environs‘ (William Harrod, 1801) and John Beckett’s ‘Nottinghamshire Past’. Matt emphasised the importance of appreciating the site within its landscape. Books such as ‘The Making of the English Landscape’ by W G Hoskins and Francis Pryor’s ‘The Making of the British Landscape’ could help us contextualise Spa Ponds within its Mediaeval landscape.

Another takeaway message from Matt’s presentation was that digging around in old books can be just as valuable as digging in fields when it comes to understanding history.

Matt then led a discussion of the relationship between ‘local history’ and ‘archaeology’, explaining how these two disciplines often overlap. For example, we can find artefacts unearthed through archaeology stored in local history libraries.

Listening attentively. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

Listening attentively. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

Matt noted that historical records can also be found in unexpected places, like King’s Mill Hospital. The group discussed some of the places where we have come across historical information. For example, John pointed out that public houses can be useful places to glean information, whether from photographs displayed on the walls as decorations, or from those who frequent such establishments.

We were introduced to some of the many different types of sources of information that might be useful when researching the history of Spa Ponds, including: maps, manorial documents, historical directories, legal records, personal diaries, census returns, drawings and photographs, and oral histories.

For a list of research resources see: http://www.foresttown.net/index.php/heritageproject/research/

Matt warned us about some of the shortcomings of historical sources, including the way that maps are not always accurate and hand-written records are not always easy to decipher. 

Matt signposted us to the British Association for Local History (BALH) and the Nottinghamshire Branch of the Victoria County Historians, alongside the County Archives for both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and the National Archives at Kew in London. No doubt we will be visiting all of these via the Internet, as well as wandering around some of them ‘in real life’ over the coming months and years.

Resources for researching Spa ponds. Photo by Matt Beresford released under CC BY-NC

Resources for researching Spa ponds. Photo by Matt Beresford released under CC BY-NC

The prospect of accessing historical resources brought with it a number of initial questions, such as:

  • Who owned the area at the time of the Domesday Book (around 1086)?
  • When was the deer park first established in Clipston?
  • Where were the nearest manor houses, castles and other large buildings located?
  • Was the hill above Spa Ponds used prior to it being part of Clipston Park, e.g. as an Iron Age hill fort?

These and other questions may be addressed during our group research sessions and as part of the forthcoming Interpreting Maps Workshop (which will take place on Friday 21st April) when we will be mapping all recorded archaeological finds in the vicinity of Spa Ponds.

After lunch Matt guided us through some activities that were designed to help prepare us for the sort of challenges we can expect to encounter as we begin to undertake research into the history of Spa Ponds and environs.

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Research Skills Workshop participants hard at work. Photo by Dennis Platts (DJP) released under CC BY-NC

Matt ensured that we are equipped with plenty of good ideas about where we might go to find information, including Internet resources and those available only by visiting libraries, museums and other places where archives are kept.

A day overflowing with information and thought-provoking activities was brought to a suitable close by Phil, who thanked Matt for his contributions, as well as thanking those who contributed in other ways, e.g. Ann, who made sure there was plenty of fruit and other healthy nibbles.

Phil bringing the Workshop to a close. Photo by Josh Dowen released under CC BY-NC

We are all looking forward to the next Spa ponds heritage project events, including the Heritage Management Plan and group research session on Friday 3rd March, and the LIDAR Workshop on Saturday 11th March.

Research Skills Workshop (25 Feb)

The next Spa Ponds Heritage Project Workshop will take place at the Flint Avenue Community Centre on Saturday 25th February (with participants arriving from 9:30am for a 10am start and 3pm finish), when Matt Beresford of MBArchaeology will provide us with some History Research Skills Training. A map to the venue is available upon request, and is recommended if you have not been there before.

Those who have not attended previous Project events are welcome to join us at this point. If you are not already registered as a project participant then to book your place on this workshop please e-mail: spa.ponds@gmail.com

The History Research Skills Workshop will explore the various historical resources that are available, how to use them and where to locate them. The training will include documentary sources, paleography, books/journals, online media, illustrations, and information stored in local archives. These research skills will help us with our work looking into the heritage of the Spa Ponds Nature Reserve.

All the events that are part of this project are free to attend. Refreshments will be available, but you are advised to bring your own lunch.

Please share this invitation with others who might be interested.

The Facebook event is at https://www.facebook.com/events/1392659110766409/

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Diary Dates revised

The Diary Dates page for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project at http://www.foresttown.net/index.php/heritageproject/diary-dates/ was revised on the 28th of January. 

Notably, the LIDAR Workshop will now take place on Saturday 11th March, with the Maps Workshop being moved to Friday 21st April, and a new session focusing on sharing photographs and memories scheduled for Saturday 1st April.

All of the events included on the Diary Dates page handout are free to attend. Most of them are only for project participants or for those who have pre-booked. If you have not already booked your place and you are interested in any of these activities please contact us via: spa.ponds@gmail.com

Account of 14th January 2017 Introductory Workshop

On Saturday 14th January 2017 we held an Introductory Workshop for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project. Josh’s account of the day is below: Continue reading

Introductory Workshop (Sat 14 Jan 2017)

A number of places are left for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project’s Introductory Workshop, which will take place from 9:30am on Saturday 14th January 2017. As with all other project activities this workshop will be free of charge.

To book your place please send an e-mail to spa.ponds@gmail.com 

Those wishing to take part in the project activities are asked to complete and return the following form:

The Workshop will feature a series of brief introductions to various elements of the Project, including Shlomo describing the Heritage Management Plan, Mark talking about ‘Time Travelling with Trees’, and Ann explaining what sharing ‘oral histories’ entails.

The remainder of the Workshop will be led by MBArchaeology’s Matt Beresford who will provide an overview of the training that MBArchaeology will be providing throughout the project.

Matt, an experienced tutor and community archaeologist, is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. He qualified from the University of Nottingham with an honours degree in Combined Studies (Archaeology & History) and a Masters degree with Distinction in Local & Regional History.  He is currently undertaking Doctoral research through the University of Hertfordshire.

The Introductory Workshop will be a real treat for all those who attend, and will help position participants to contribute to the Spa Ponds Heritage Project.

New trees identified in Spa Ponds tree map/database

FTNCG’s tree map/spreadsheet has been updated to include a new area (which we call ‘EMEC5b’), including mainly young trees and some intriguing damsons. Continue reading

Spa Ponds Heritage Project Announcement

Heritage Lottery Foundation - Lottery FundedThe Forest Town Nature Conservation Group (FTNCG) has been successful in attracting Heritage Lottery Fund money to help pay for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project.

The FTNCG-led Spa Ponds Heritage Project has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant of £8,500 to research and celebrate the history of Spa Ponds Nature Reserve, known locally as ‘Gara Ponds’.

This project takes place 700 years after King Edward II is believed to have ordered the creation of the site’s medieval fish ponds.

The Spa Ponds Nature Reserve is located off Clipstone Drive near Garibaldi Wood in Forest Town, Mansfield. FTNCG is the volunteer-run charity who bought Spa Ponds in 2014 with help from the community of Forest Town. FTNCG will be assisted by friendly experts, led by Matt Beresford of MBArchaeology, for this year-long project.

The Spa Ponds Heritage Project will provide around 20 participants with training and guidance from historians and community archaeologists through a series of free workshops and activities. The project will also include recording people’s memories of the site and creating a community-led Heritage Management Plan.

The HLF grant will fund opportunities for local people to experience local heritage through learning how to interpret maps and documents, being introduced to tree recording, and by participating in archaeological surveying at Spa Ponds. Together, these efforts will help reveal the site’s history and identify features that need to be protected. This will improve the community’s understanding of the site and help FTNCG look after the Nature Reserve in ways that respect the site’s heritage.

At the end of the project there will be public displays and events to share what has been learned and to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the site.

Those wishing to be kept informed about the project, and those who would like to share their Spa Ponds stories, can register their interest by e-mailing spa.ponds@gmail.com or by phoning Shlomo Dowen on (01623) 640134. Further information will be made available through http://www.foresttown.net/heritageproject/

Commenting on the award of the grant, FTNCG Secretary Lorraine Dowen said: “I am hugely excited and grateful to be part of a project that will skill-up local volunteers to research this amazing and as yet unexplored medieval site, recently purchased by the community and now held in trust for future generations.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Our Sharing Heritage programme helps local communities embark on a journey of discovery to find out more about an aspect of their area’s heritage. The Gara Ponds will be known to many in Mansfield, but few will be aware of their 700 year history and it’s great that this project will involve dozens of volunteers in revealing their untold stories.”

Spa Ponds Heritage Project Announcement

Heritage Lottery Foundation - Lottery FundedThe Forest Town Nature Conservation Group (FTNCG) has been successful in attracting Heritage Lottery Fund money to help pay for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project.

The FTNCG-led Spa Ponds Heritage Project has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant of £8,500 to research and celebrate the history of Spa Ponds Nature Reserve, known locally as ‘Gara Ponds’.

This project takes place 700 years after King Edward II is believed to have ordered the creation of the site’s medieval fish ponds.

The Spa Ponds Nature Reserve is located off Clipstone Drive near Garibaldi Wood in Forest Town, Mansfield. FTNCG is the volunteer-run charity who bought Spa Ponds in 2014 with help from the community of Forest Town. FTNCG will be assisted by friendly experts, led by Matt Beresford of MBArchaeology, for this year-long project.

The Spa Ponds Heritage Project will provide around 20 participants with training and guidance from historians and community archaeologists through a series of free workshops and activities. The project will also include recording people’s memories of the site and creating a community-led Heritage Management Plan.

The HLF grant will fund opportunities for local people to experience local heritage through learning how to interpret maps and documents, being introduced to tree recording, and by participating in archaeological surveying at Spa Ponds. Together, these efforts will help reveal the site’s history and identify features that need to be protected. This will improve the community’s understanding of the site and help FTNCG look after the Nature Reserve in ways that respect the site’s heritage.

At the end of the project there will be public displays and events to share what has been learned and to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the site.

Those wishing to be kept informed about the project, and those who would like to share their Spa Ponds stories, can register their interest by e-mailing spa.ponds@gmail.com or by phoning Shlomo Dowen on (01623) 640134. Further information will be made available through http://www.foresttown.net/heritageproject/

Commenting on the award of the grant, FTNCG Secretary Lorraine Dowen said: “I am hugely excited and grateful to be part of a project that will skill-up local volunteers to research this amazing and as yet unexplored medieval site, recently purchased by the community and now held in trust for future generations.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Our Sharing Heritage programme helps local communities embark on a journey of discovery to find out more about an aspect of their area’s heritage. The Gara Ponds will be known to many in Mansfield, but few will be aware of their 700 year history and it’s great that this project will involve dozens of volunteers in revealing their untold stories.”