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Charlotte Hernandez and Hillary Riley from Staffordshire County Council Libraries service

Centuries of life on Cannock Chase Retold in new exhibition at Stafford library

People interested in learning more about Cannock Chase’s fascinating history can now do so in a new pop-up exhibition touring the county’s libraries.

Using the latest LIDAR and Aerial photography technology, the Chase through Time project has helped unravel over 2000 years of human activity across Cannock Chase.

Amongst the discoveries are over 430 new archaeological sites, many of which form part of the remains of the two Great War training camps where over 500,000 men were trained.  These include practice trenches, assault courses, weapons pits, and an extensive replica ‘battlefield’, which were constructed in the area in the early months of the war.

The exhibition will be at Stafford library throughout August and available to visitors during normal opening times.

In addition to this important military heritage, the project has also shone a light on the Chase’s long and varied history by revealing prehistoric monuments, evidence for the medieval management and division of the landscape, and the area’s significant industrial heritage.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Library Chief said:

“This is a really interesting exhibition that will give people in Stafford a real insight into life on Cannock Chase over thousands of years.

“With the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War approaching it is also a fitting time to highlight the role of the Chase in training half a million men for the war.  The findings are now helping us better understand this special landscape and will help us manage it so that future generations can enjoy it.”

The project was made possible through the use of LIDAR and aerial photography which allowed the team of experts and volunteers to see beneath the trees and bushes without having to dig anything up.

The project was delivered by Staffordshire County Council and Historic England with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Helen Winton, Aerial Investigation and Mapping Manager at Historic England, said:

“Cannock Chase has some of the best preserved archaeological remains relating to First World War army training in England. Thanks to volunteer-led research, expert insight and by exploring the landscape from above we’ve learned so much more about the area’s rich past. To be able to match trenches and huts in 100-year-old postcards, drawings and diaries to features on the ground, and in turn make connections to the people who trained there, was fantastic and really brings the history of the Chase to life.”

More information about the Project and exhibition can be found at www.chasethroughtime.info

People interested in reviewing the research and project report can do so via the online tool http://www.services.historicengland.org.uk/cannock-chase-map/