Investigators made their first expedition onto a wild and windy Rombalds Moor in a project to capture the images from hundreds of ancient carved stones.
The 30-plus CSI – or Carved Stone Investigation – volunteers began their first practical day of training on Saturday for a survey aiming to record prehistoric rock carvings for posterity.
Volunteers will spend the next three years investigating more than 300 carved stones scattered across Rombalds Moor.
As well as detailed written records of the ancient carvings, the teams of five will use photogrammetry techniques to create 3D computerised images of each stone.
The aim is to record the carvings before the destructive power of wind, rain, and growing vegetation erases them permanently.
The intensive survey is taking place with the help of cash from Pennine Prospects’ £1.9million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Community Archaeologist Gavin Edwards, said: “The survey on Rombalds Moor will be the most comprehensive undertaken in over two decades, and with the help of the volunteers, we will have gathered very valuable information.
“Prehistoric carvings are a unique and valuable part of our heritage, providing a direct link with the people who lived here over 5,000 years ago.
“ It is important to try and capture a detailed record of the carved stones and their surrounding landscape both for current studies and to guide conservation management, so we can protect them for future generations. Existing records indicate that over 300 carved panels lie on the moors between the rivers Wharfe and Aire.”
Overseeing the volunteers are Tertia Barnett, who has worked on a range of international archaeological projects, rock art expert Kate Sharpe, and rock art researcher Richard Stroud.