History of Exploration

Andrew's and Dury's 1773 Map of Wiltshire The history of interest in the archaeology in the AONB is important for two reasons. Firstly the known sites, and features across the landscape are a product of past survey, investigation and research. Their distribution is partly dependent on where people have focused their attention. Understanding the areas of the landscape that have been particularly focused on, the methods that have been used and the questions have been asked, helps us to identify areas, techniques and questions which have been neglected.

Secondly the landscape of the AONB, especially centred on the heartland of Cranborne Chase played a major role in the development of the discipline of archaeology. The history of investigation of the landscape by figures such as Stukeley, Aubrey, Colt Hoare, Pitt Rivers and Sumner played an important role in the development of modern archaeology. The legacy of their investigations is as an important feature of the heritage of the AONB as the sites that they investigated. Sites such as South Lodge or Woodcutts are not therefore just valuable for what they tell us about the Bronze or Iron Age but as key foci in the landscape which represent how the way we look at the past has developed.

This important legacy has led more recent generations of archaeologists to investigate the landscape of the chase and added to its reputation particularly for the wealth of prehistoric archaeology present.

Download a short introduction to the history of archaeological discovery in the AONB (PDF 851 KB).

This document forms part of the wider AONB Historic Environment Action Plans.