6. Conclusions

Download the Seeing Beneath Stonehenge KMZ (view using Google Earth)

Seeing Beneath Stonehenge was one of the first applications of its kind to incorporate such a wide variety of different types of spatial data from a single archaeological research project, while also making these freely accessible to the more than one billion people that have downloaded Google Earth. The results have demonstrated that the opportunities for positive public engagement are high and there are many additional benefits that can be gained, especially those associated with education. The ability of the software to enable the interpretation of archaeological sites within a wider geographical context is of great value, in addition to allowing the user to explore specific sites and discoveries.

Google Earth presents a relatively easy way in which to engage with an audience that is now 'technology expectant'. There will be a continuing need to debate questions around the nature of data ownership and curation, but the new generation of 'digital natives' will expect more from us, and we have yet to deliver. While it is highly likely that some of these applications may be transient in their nature, value will be achieved by enabling users to make sense of complex data even if it is for a short window of time. One of the greatest challenges for archaeology in the future will be to develop ways to give meaning and narrative to the 'data deluge' we find ourselves surrounded by. Currently, Google Earth remains a considerable untapped resource with which to do this.