Wessex Archaeology staff working on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire have been using a tool not often associated with archaeologists – the chainsaw.
They are completing a nine-month project to clear trees and scrub from almost 100 scheduled ancient monuments on the Plain, mainly Bronze Age round barrows.
The Ministry of Defence is responsible for most of Salisbury Plain and its property management arm, Defence Estates, contracted Wessex to clear the sites.
These will be better protected by removing trees, brush and bramble, whose roots can damage the monuments. Removing the foliage will also discourage rabbits and badgers from burrowing which can also cause damage.
As well as Bronze Age (2,400BC-700BC) bell, disc, saucer and pond barrows, the monuments include prehistoric field systems, and the East Chisenbury midden, a Bronze Age rubbish dump. Several barrows were in the Battlesbury hillfort, an Iron Age site built on a Neolithic causeway camp.
The monuments can now be more easily seen from the public roads which cross the Plain.
Project supervisor Jon Martin (who is pictured) worked with three other staff to clear the monuments. He was trained in chainsaw use for three days before beginning the project in January 2003.
Objects found include a Roman coin, Late Bronze Age pottery and Neolithic flints.
Wessex Archaeology's work will help towards the continued preservation of the rich archaeological landscape of the Plain.