A major landscape project has unearthed a wealth of fascinating finds on an impressive scale in the Dorset Downs.

Just 20 months after National Grid started work in 2018 on its Dorset Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project just outside Dorchester, the team of more than 25 archaeologists has uncovered compelling evidence of human presence in the area dating back 6,000 years.

National Grid’s VIP project will transform views of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by removing 22 pylons and replacing an 8.8km section of overhead line with underground cables near the villages of Winterbourne Abbas, Winterbourne Steepleton, Martinstown and Friar Waddon. It’s one of the first projects in the world to remove existing high-voltage electricity transmission infrastructure solely to enhance the landscape.

With the archaeology now concluded and the engineering work which will enhance the landscape in full flow, National Grid has organised a series of free webinars to give people a taster of the fantastic findings and what they mean.

Led by National Grid’s Lead Project Manager, Paul Hamnett and John Boothroyd of Oxford Archaeology, each webinar will focus on a different period in history and feature a contribution from one of the many stakeholders who made the project possible, including Amanda Chadburn Senior Policy Adviser, Historic England and member of the VIP project’s national Stakeholder Advisory Group; Tom Munro, Manager of the Dorset AONB Partnership, and Steve Wallis, the Dorset County Archaeologist from Dorset Council.

Paul Hamnett said: “The complexity of this project is what makes it so interesting. In addition to the engineering side of the project, the scale of the archaeology work is incredible. This is a scheme designed to enhance the landscape and enrich local experience. We are looking forward to sharing what we’ve discovered and are encouraging anyone interested in finding out more to sign up for our webinar events.”

The area for pylon removal was chosen by the national Stakeholder Advisory Group from hundreds of alternatives following a comprehensive, independent survey across AONBs and National Parks in England and Wales. It is one of only four in England and Wales among others in the Peak District National Park, the North Wessex Downs AONB and Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

The webinars will run on Tuesday 8 June (Neolithic & Bronze Age), Tuesday 15 June (Roman era), and Tuesday 22 June (early to post Medieval) from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

You can find out more including how to register to attend the free events at: http://dorset.nationalgrid.co.uk/