In mitigation for the visual impact on the archaeological landscape surrounding a windfarm development at Burn of Whilk, Caithness, a high resolution LiDAR survey was commissioned by AOC Archaeology Group. The data collection was subcontracted to Fugro BKS Ltd. The data was collected using a Riegl LMS-Q680 (LiteMapper 6800) scanner mounted on a fixed-wing aircraft, at a resolution of no less than 7 points per square metre. The raw data was subject to four stages of initial quality control processing prior to supply as raw ASCII datasets, in 1x1km tiles, to AOC Archaeology. The pulse data was also classified using TerraScan in order to produce a ‘bare earth’ digital terrain model (DTM) at 1m resolution. The area surveyed using LiDAR comprised 32 km², comprising landscape of varied character. To the north and south of the study area there are substantial areas of improved ground primarily used for pasture. For the most part, however, the study area included upland moorland areas, comprising areas of deep blanket peat. The effect of peat harvesting on the landscape surrounding Yarrows and Whilk is very evident in the LiDAR data, and scars from peat cutting dominate the upland peat areas. The predominance of peat in the surveyed area means that many sites may be buried by peat growth and thick heather coverage, and therefore undetectable by LiDAR. However, extensive remains of prehistoric settlement and agriculture as well as remains relating to the historic centuries have been documented by the survey. The resulting datasets provide a detailed record of the landscape prior to construction of the windfarm, and form an invaluable enhancement of the archaeological record. 79 possible sites, previously unlisted in the Highland Council HER, were recorded. <1>
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