Northumberland from the air: Historic England launches new online tool

Aerial photographs of Northumberland feature in a new online archive launched by Historic England.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 6:30 am

Ancient archaeology such as fortified enclosures at West Hills, between Thropton and Rothbury, can be seen.

This example is known as a ‘multivallate’ hillfort, meaning that it has multiple circuits of defensive ramparts. The fort is located in a strategic position, commanding extensive views across the Coquet Valley.

There is also photography showing Roman camps at Chew Green between Rochester and Alwinton.

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Fortified enclosures at West Hills between Thropton and Rothbury. Picture: Historic England

Famous buildings including St James’ Park stadium in 1927 when Newcastle United won the First Division championship can also be viewed through the aerial photography explorer.

Over 400,000 images from 1919 to the present day have been added to the tool.

The platform will allow people immediate digital access to Historic England’s nationally important collection of aerial photographs.

Around 300,000 of the photographs are the work of Historic England’s Aerial Investigation and Mapping team.

Aerial images of the North East. Pictures: Historic England

Established in 1967, the team takes photographs of England from the air to discover new archaeological sites, create archaeological maps and monitor the condition of historic sites across the country.

The remaining 100,000 images come from the Historic England Archive aerial photography collection, which numbers over two million images in total, and includes important historic photography, including interwar and post-war images from Aerofilms Ltd and The Royal Air Force.

By opening up these images to the public through this accessible online tool, Historic England hopes that people will use it to research their local areas, offering an insight into a century of changes and development.

This will allow them potentially to make their own discoveries about their local areas. It will also provide industry professionals and local authorities with a useful resource to help planning, heritage projects and archaeological investigation.

St James' Park, Newcastle, in 1927. Picture: Historic England

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said “I am delighted that our new online tool will allow people to access easily our wonderful collection of aerial images and enjoy the historic photography that our team uses every day to unlock the mysteries of England’s past.”

Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Heritage, added: "What better way to discover our shared history than through this fascinating new online tool which offers a bird's eye view of our past.”

Roman camps at Chew Green.