Uncovering Hidden Stories

Landscape and environment

Landscape archaeology is the study of the ways in which people have used the land and have adapted the natural landscape over long periods of time. As people established farms, settlements, industrial plants and infrastructures they modified and sometimes damaged the natural landscape. In the last 50 years, rapid urban development and the effects of climate change have accelerated the impact on our landscape. Knowledge of the landscape and its archaeology are important, not only in helping to answer our curiosity about the past but also for protecting our cultural heritage and in shaping town and country planning for the future.


Stonehenge is one of the most famous monuments in the world. The stone circle and trilithons (pairs of vertical stones capped with stone lintels) are the most immediately visible part of the monument. The monument is the result of several phases of construction spanning hundreds of years. This image shows the stone circle standing within the earlier earthen work bank and gives an impression of its landscape setting. This is important as Stonehenge does not stand in isolation, but forms part of a remarkable ancient landscape of early Neolithic, late Neolithic and early Bronze Age monuments.

Hadrian’s Library is one of the iconic archaeological sites in Athens. It was founded by Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis and during the Byzantine era three churches were built on the area. For centuries this building has been a focal point in Athens’ urban landscape and it still is.

Landscape reconstructions of the Rhine-Meuse delta for the first millennium AD, the period before large-scale river embankment. The dataset provides a detailed reconstruction of the landscape of natural alluvial ridges and channels throughout the delta. The maps are made for analysis at a superregional scale. For small study areas these maps provide the context of the past landscape, to which archaeological prospective surveying and other forms of local investigation can add further details.

Merovingian society (5th-8th century AD) is marked by its rural character. The extensive burial grounds at Harmignies, which cover the whole Merovingian period, lie outside of settlement and occupy an important place in the landscape. The burial grounds are row-grave fields (called ‘Reihengräberfelder’). Such well-organized burial sites emerged in the wider Roman-Germanic contact zone and gradually disappeared from the landscape from the late 7th century on.

The Castle of Iruela constitutes the Almohad fortification prototype in al-Andalus. Located on a promontory that enjoys a privileged natural defense, it was built between the 12th and 13th centuries. Conquest by the Castilians in 1321 resulted in important modifications to adapt the castle to their military needs. The Tower of Homage stands out as a characteristic element of the defensive systems of the medieval Christian era.

The Enisala Fortress was built in the late 13th century for military, defensive and surveillance purposes by the Byzantines or the Genoveses. The fortress was conquered by the Turks, then by the Vlachs and reconquered by the Turks definitely in 1417. It is situated on the Dealul Gras Hill, close to Razim Lake, in the South-East of Romania, and is one of the most known touristic symbols from Dobrogea region.