Those living close to Whittington Castle were privy to some nimble flying last week when a state-of-the-art drone was flown to map the Castle grounds using the latest  LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, developed in conjunction with the University of Chester and Routescene. This is the first stage of a project led by Stewart Ainsworth, visiting professor of landscape archaeology at the University of Chester and founder member of SharedPast, a community archaeology support group, currently working in partnership with the Whittington Castle Preservation Trust (WCPT) to develop an ambitious and exciting archaeological project.

Excited pupils from Whittington Primary School joined the University of Chester’s ‘Digital on Tour’ team and their mobile studio on site to learn about the drone and what it does as well as being given first-hand experience of virtual reality.

Following an approach from the Preservation Trust to Professor Ainsworth, a two-year project has been conceived to investigate Whittington Castle and how its presence has impacted the village and the surrounding landscape. Funding will be sought to enable the project and the event at the Castle was the first stage in evaluating the potential of the 3D mapping and digital technology to help shape the future bid for this new venture.

Professor Ainsworth said: “Little did we know when the Trust contacted us how important this archaeological  project might become. There are still many unanswered questions to be resolved about the evolution of the Castle and by stimulating new research using new technology we are excited to be part of delivering the Trust’s vision for the site and the community around it. As part of this project to investigate the heritage of Whittington we are aiming to develop online, outdoor and workshop training activities for children and adults from the community. These will include working with maps, aerial photographs, LiDAR and 3D computer modelling and hopefully some test-pits in and around the village.”

Davina Fairweather, WCPT trustee said: “This concept is probably the most exciting project in the Castle’s recent history. The Castle is the dominant feature in our small village. Why it is here, what part it played, and plays, in the life of the village will be investigated by its own community and brought to life for residents and those who visit. We will also get to know the principal characters who lived, loved, fought and worked here. Skills will be shared to help people understand how to appreciate our rich heritage. We hope, because of our work, that heritage will become more meaningful to all ages wherever they are. The results from the work will also inform a revised interpretation of the Castle’s history and there are plans for a permanent exhibition.

The SharedPast and Preservation Trust teams are planning an open meeting on Tuesday 16 August (times to be confirmed) at the Church of St John the Baptist in Whittington to learn more about the work and how the whole community can be involved.