AN archaeologist from York is on cloud line after landing a coveted job mapping historical treasures from the air.

Shona Williams, a University of York graduate, has won a place on a prestigious English Heritage training scheme based with its aerial survey team in York, which is busy mapping thousands of archaeological treasures across a vast swathe of the country.

The year-long opportunity aims to ensure archaeological skills are nurtured in a new generation, helping to protect and discover more of the nation’s priceless heritage.

As part of her assignment, Shona is poring over hundreds of photographs of areas like the Yorkshire Wolds to uncover additional historic features in the landscape, many of which can only be seen from the air. They could include Bronze Age barrows and signs of Iron Age and Roman settlement, often only detectable as subtle differences in crops growing in fields. But this is not just a desk job, explained the 29-year-old, who lives in South Bank, York: “I’ve been airborne in a Cessna light aircraft and joined aerial survey sorties from Sherburn Airfield, near Selby. “Learning to read an ordinance survey map from 2,000 feet takes a bit of practice, but thankfully I’ve got a pretty strong stomach for flying.

“Hopefully, I’ll soon get to operate the camera.

“The aerial survey bug has definitely bitten and I want to work in this field once the placement is over.”

Brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Shona graduated in archaeology from the University of York in 2002. Dave MacLeod, who manages the English Heritage Aerial Survey and Investigation team in York, said: “The sheer wealth of historical information we can plot from the air is quite astonishing and it’s not unusual to uncover a host of new features over just a few flights.

“But this information has to be interpreted and that takes skill and knowledge. Training new aerial investigators is just as important for the historic environment as nurturing stone masons and iron workers.” The post is offered under a scheme called English Heritage Professional Placement in Conservation, and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by the Institute of Field Archaeology.