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With the aid of high-tech cameras and computer imaging software, a unique exhibition is being held at the New Forest Centre that allows visitors to see the “hidden” history of the region.

The exhibit is now open at the museum in Lyndhurst, Hampshire. It offers a variety of maps and other artefacts that show the vast history of the forest – highlighting many things that are hidden from traditional view. Some of the highlights include World War I era training facilities, such as the remains of dozens of training trenches created during World War I, the Brockenhurst Hill Fort, and an expansive dog training facility.

The interactive exhibition reveals new archaeological sites that have been discovered during the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme. Led by the Verderers, the judicial officers of the royal forest, the management scheme uses high-tech remote sensors to look beneath the tree canopy and discover new sites and monuments. These sites were not previously visible using traditional survey techniques and aerial photography.

Through the scanning, called Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar), experts were able to build a picture of what the New Forest used to look like – uncovering new finds including prehistoric burial grounds. The technology was also used to better explain the area’s role during the First and Second World Wars.

The laser-guided technique helped to find the remains of trenches that were “hard to spot with the naked eye,” the park authority told the BBC.

More evidence that dogs were trained to deliver messages during the war was found in the Forest as well. It was also home to accommodation huts during World War II, and surveyors uncovered a hidden landing strip at Beaulieu Airfield.

All this and more will feature in the “Shedding New Light on the New Forest's Past” exhibition. It runs at the centre until 24 January 2016.

Going back a thousand years, the New Forest has a long and proud history. An ancient hunting ground, it lays between the popular seaside destinations of Bournemouth and Southampton. Set aside as private hunting ground by William the Conqueror in 1079, the national park is the perfect destination for adventurers, families and all enjoying a holiday cottage escape in the New Forest.

Image Credit: davidgsteadman (