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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Balloons help spot ancient sites
Picture of balloon at the Llangollen Balloon Festival
Archaeologists will use balloons to spot new sites
Archaeologists are to take to the skies above north Wales in hot air balloons in an attempt to spot long-lost ancient sites.

Balloonists preparing for the weekend's Llangollen Balloon Festival will take archaeologists up in their craft to allow them to take aerial photographs.

Many ancient sites can only be spotted from the air with slow-flying balloons ideal for landscape photography.

The balloon festival is due to be held in the town on 3 and 4 September.

'See outline'

Llangollen Balloon Festival organiser Christine Leggatt-Baggs said hot air balloons were ideal for helping archaeologists spot signs of old walls, roadways and settlements buried in the countryside.

She said: "Apparently there are sites that can only be seen from the air and as balloons are slow-flying, it's quite a good way to see the sites underneath.

"It might be sites are under the ground and you can only see the outline while you are flying.

Picture of balloons at the Llangollen Balloon Festival
We can't actually specify where we're going because it all depends on where the wind takes us
Christine Leggatt-Baggs, festival organiser

"It's perfect because aircraft go past too quickly."

Top of the airborne archaeologists' list to photograph is Dinas Bran Castle in Llangollen and the string of Iron Age hill forts that stretch along the Clwydian Range.

But Ms Leggatt-Baggs added that the balloonists could not guarantee they would fly over specific sites.

She said: "The problem with ballooning is you don't know where you're going.

"There are quite a few sites in the Dee Valley but we can't actually specify where we're going because it all depends on where the wind takes us. It's quite an adventure."

'New discoveries'

Fiona Gale, an archaeologist with Denbighshire Council's countryside services department, said the balloon trips would allow them to discover more about the county's heritage.

She added: "The late summer months are an ideal time for seeking more information on the wealth of archaeological sites that exist within the region.

"The hot dry weather helps expose the lines of old walls, roadways and settlement under the countryside and many new discoveries have been made using this technique.

"The high cost of these photographic surveys makes them financially unattractive, leaving many potentially important discoveries waiting to be explored.

"The fact that the Llangollen Balloon Festival falls at just the right time of year has created an obvious opportunity to further Denbighshire's understanding of its distant past."

The ninth Llangollen Balloon Festival is due to begin on Saturday at the town's Royal International Pavilion.

There will be balloon flights in the morning and late afternoon, with a highlight on Saturday night with balloons glowing in the dark to music and a firework display.


SEE ALSO:
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14 Aug 05 |  Bristol/Somerset
Balloon flight dream comes true
30 Aug 03 |  North East Wales
Balloon festival lifts off
01 Sep 02 |  Wales


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