The original aerial photo of Stonehenge taken in 1907Stonehenge as it is nowPress Release:
Featuring dozens of historic and modern photos and illustrations, many
of them from the National Monuments Record, Aerial Photography and
Archaeology - 100 Years of Discovery tells the story of those first
photographs, explores the world of aerial photography in Victorian,
Edwardian and wartime Britain, and looks specifically at the
contribution that the last 100 years of aerial photography has made to
our understanding of 6,000 years of British history and pre-history.
In 1906, Lieutenant Philip Henry Sharpe of the Royal
Engineers Balloon Section took three pictures of Stonehenge
from a tethered balloon. Why he took them is not entirely clear but
they are the first known aerial photos of the famous monument, and
indeed of a British archaeological site.
These photos demonstrated the clarity with which even slight earthworks
could be picked out from above and more easily understood. In the years
following the photos publication in the journal of the
Society of Antiquaries in 1907, archaeologists gradually came to
realise the value of aerial photography as a key technique to discover,
record and interpret traces of the past, culminating today in a more
systematic usage of aerial photography for archaeological purposes.
Pete Horne, Head of Aerial Survey and Investigation at English
Heritage, said: Today, aerial survey is the single most
important tool for the discovery of archaeological sites in this
country. Experts study new photographs as well as old ones, using
interpretation, mapping and analysis skills to draw out the valuable
information they contain. As a result of their study, we discover more
about the past and gain a greater insight into the changes that have
Each year, hundreds of previously unknown sites, ranging in date from
the Neolithic (late Stoneg Age, from circa 4000 BC) to the 20th
century, are discovered through the English Heritages
National Mapping Programme or by individuals whom it funded.
Aerial Photography and Archaeology - 100 Years of Discovery will be
held at Stonehenge (1 7 August), Kelmarsh Hall for the
Festival of History (12 13 August), and at Old Sarum (21
29 August). Afterwards it will travel the country to places
including the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury, Salisbury Museum,
Devizes Museum and the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham.
Weather permitting, a few lucky visitors to the Stonehenge exhibition
may have a chance to ride on a tethered balloon provided by Virgin
Balloon Flights and take their own aerial pictures of the site.