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Heritage Quest project wins European Heritage Europa Nostra Award

Heritage Quest is a large-scale citizen science project in the field of archaeology that allows anyone to contribute to scientific research. It is the first large-scale archaeological citizen science project in The Netherlands and one of the few of its kind in the world. As part of the Cultural Heritage Summit 2022 in Prague, the winning projects were presented during a festive ceremony. Heritage Quest won an award in the Research category.

Visualising archaeological structures

The project had three main goals: to map the undiscovered archaeological heritage hidden within poorly accessible areas in order to protect it; to raise awareness of and engage the public in heritage protection and scientific research through active participation; and to gain a better insight into past societies through a more evenly distributed research focus.

Heritage Quest made use of new, high-resolution LiDAR maps, which helped with visualising archaeological structures that were hidden by vegetation. During the pilot project, participants helped to inspect these elevation maps of the Veluwe, a largely forested region of The Netherlands, and validate the discovered structures out in the field. The project has uncovered almost 3,000 previously unknown archaeological heritage objects, such as prehistoric burial mounds, Celtic fields and charcoal kilns.

Involving the public

The jury was very enthusiastic about the project's way of involving the public.

'Archaeology is constantly under threat from human impact, and is increasingly faced with destruction from climate change. Heritage Quest has shown that citizens can have an active role safeguarding cultural heritage through knowledge creation, and that this will build long-term, sustainable relationships with practitioners and the wider community. This combination of community building paired with state-of-the-art technology is an exciting way forward for archaeology and heritage projects.'

About the project

The first phase of the Heritage Quest project, that received this award, was funded by the Province of Gelderland – Department of Innovation, as a pilot grant to Erfgoed Gelderland and Leiden University. 

Read more on the website of Heritage Quest.

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