Champions of the Past

Become a Champion of the Past – Join a Journey of Discovery into the History of Cranborne Chase

Champions of the Past Project Aims

Champions of the Past is our major archaeological project.

Champions of the Past is a major archaeological project that aims to provide opportunities for all communities around and within the Chase & Chalke area to learn about and engage with the archaeology beneath their feet in a variety of ways. By raising awareness and inspiring new volunteers through a range of free training opportunities and hands-one surveying together we will identify, explore and investigate new archaeological sites and features, put in place better management and help improve the condition of many sites in the area.

The project aims to: 

  • To engage with communities and individuals around and within the Chase & Chalke area to raise awareness and inspire many new volunteers who will be trained in new skills across survey, research and conservation.
  • To identify, investigate and ground truth more than 200 new archaeological sites and features across the area.
  • Use LiDAR to gather new archaeological information about the heritage of Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley area.
  • To leave a legacy where the remarkable archaeology of the area will be better understood, recorded, protected and managed with involvement and pride by local communities.

Shows child hand with a trowel to move sand to find bones in a dig box

The Cranborne Chase LiDAR Portal

We’ve launched the new Cranborne Chase LiDAR portal. Now anyone, anywhere can become a citizen archaeologist to explore the unique archaeology of this landscape and help identify new archaeological sites and features. The Cranborne Chase LiDAR Portal has been designed so that volunteers can navigate the area and discover new archaeological sites in an accessible way.

Become a ‘citizen scientist’ and help to discover, understand, and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Chase & Chalke landscape, by exploring the Lidar mapping and identifying new and exciting historical sites. The Portal contains a series of training modules with step-by-step instructions of how to get the most out of this fantastic new website so no previous experience is needed.

How to Get Involved

  • If you haven’t already please register on the Chase & Chalke Volunteer Hub here. 
  • When you have registered on the Chase & Chalke Volunteer Hub you are ready to start your volunteer journey.
  • To get access to the LiDAR Portal you can register an account on the website and complete the online training modules. You can get access to the Cranborne Chase LiDAR Portal here
  • When you have completed the training your account will be updated with access to the portal.
  • For support please email with any questions and our team will assist you.
  • You can also subscribe to our e-news for updates and info here.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging.

The technique uses laser scanners mounted to light aircraft to send thousands of pulses to the ground to record and measure the height of the ground surface with a very high resolution and accuracy.

Even the smallest of height differences on the surface of the landscape are recorded, resulting in a map of the ground surface in incredible detail.

Using the new Portal volunteers will be able to navigate the area map, zoom in, and help us discover new archaeological sites.

Volunteers will receive free specialist training in how to recognise and interpret archaeological features on LiDAR images to help us digitally record unmapped archaeology. The Portal will also host historic maps, aerial photographs and information on known archaeological records and will give everyone the opportunity to explore the archaeological wonder of this amazing landscape.

On-site Surveys and Ground-Truthing Opportunities

Once new sites have been identified on the LiDAR Portal our volunteers will carry out systematic, on-site surveys to find and record these new features on the ground.

Volunteers will be trained in ‘ground-truthing’ survey techniques and will be able to work together with local archaeological societies, local museums and our experts to record hundreds of newly identified sites. This can include visiting the site and completing a pre-prepared survey, taking photographs, and even making sketches of the site and recording observations.

Geophysical Survey & Excavation

Where possible more targeted archaeological investigation of key sites will be carried out.

Working with farmers and landowners, our aim is to provide training to volunteers in earthwork surveys, geophysical surveys and field walking in order to explore several sites of interest in more depth, potentially leading to small-scale excavations in key areas. This is an incredibly exciting and long sighted project that you can be involved with.

Archaeology at Risk

Many monuments and known sites in our area are at risk of damage through neglect and farming practices. Working with farmers and landowners we aim to carry out practical conservation work to sites to improve their condition and help protect them for the future. Our volunteers will carry out tasks such as light clearance of scrub and fencing off neglected monuments while working with communities and landowners to develop better knowledge, appreciation and pride in the special features of their landscape.

Become a Champion of the Past, today

In order for this project to be a success we need your input. Your ideas, enthusiasm and energy are all required to tap into the archaeological potential of Cranborne Chase.

Free training, unique volunteering opportunities, incredible experience, in an amazing landscape with wonderful people. What’s not to love? We’re looking for new archaeology champions to help us identify, record, interpret and understand the unique archaeological heritage of the Chase & Chalke area. Join us today.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be adding training and volunteering opportunities to the Chase & Chalke Volunteer Hub. To keep up to date on how you can become a Champion of the Past, and to find out more about all of our free training and volunteering opportunities, click here.

Chase and Chalke and Heritage Fund logos