Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 08:46 UK

Digs to unearth mining heritage

Site of Alson dig
The landscape around Alston has been marked by centuries of mining

A major archaeological research project aimed at uncovering the mining heritage of part of Cumbria is under way.

The three-year scheme will see teams scour a 300 sq km (116 sq miles) area of Alston Moor in the North Pennines.

The English Heritage-backed project hopes to reveal how the area's landscape and settlements developed over the centuries.

The North Pennines is one of the most intensely mined landscapes in Britain and famed for rich deposits of lead.

Stewart Ainsworth, English Heritage project manager, said: "The impact of mining on the landscape from the Roman period onwards has never been systematically researched by archaeologists.

Abandoned structures

"The moors and fields of this area are littered with abandoned structures, humps and hollows.

"But only a few scattered earthworks and finds have remained from the times before the large-scale changes imposed by lead-mining in the 18th and 19th centuries.

"This major new project will deliver much better understanding of the development of the landscape, settlements and buildings we see today and help to identify issues which threaten their survival."

As well as ground teams, aircraft and satellite technology will also be used to map the area.

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