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Full text

Title
Transactions of the Symposium on Photo Interpretation

414
SYMPOSIUM PHOTO INTERPRETATION, DELFT 1962
Fig. 2. “Celtic” fields, Shillingstone Hill, Dorset. The evidence for secondary strip ploughing
is clear, particularly right of X. now mostly ploughed down. Distance X-Y about 360 metres.
(Near-vertical air photograph reproduced by permission of the British Air Ministery, British
Crown Copyright reserved)
land remains as peripheral and of little count in the Iron Age and Romano-
British periods. The downs were teeming with well-ordered settlements as well
as fields.
The search also involves at least an initial analysis, which is the second
operation mentioned. The importance of air photographs here simply cannot
be over-estimated. For instance, settlements, tracks and other earthworks which
may be significantly earlier or later than the fields are quickly recognised or
perhaps, just as important, suspected and ear-marked for further investigation.
But it is evidence for the subtle alterations of later ploughing in or over “Celtic”
fields which air photographs best and most quickly display. By so doing they
show that we have to look on the history of our fields - and downland - as one
of development, not status. We have to consider development within the “Cel
tic” field phase and after. In this latter case a most interesting and so far little-
investigated aspect of English economic history is brought to light. This is the
apparent medieval cultivation in an open-field system of large tracts of downland
hitherto widely regarded as untouched since the Roman period. Excavation
in such an area, on Fyfield Down, Wiltshire, by P. J. Fowler, has proved the
existence of a long-house and other buildings of 11 th— 13th century A.D. in a