Work is under way to compile the first comprehensive record of ancient monuments on Ilkley Moor in a bid to preserve them for future generations.

Archaeologists have started a three-year project to photograph rock carvings across Rombalds Moor and will use state-of-the-art technology to produce 3-D images of the stones.

The results could prevent deterioration of the carvings and create a fuller picture of the history of Ilkley Moor.

The study is part of the South Pennines Watershed Landscape project, which won nearly £2 million of lottery funding in April to restore the landscape and heritage of the uplands.

It will examine the full impact of man’s intervention on the area, and is being led by community archaeologist Gavin Edwards, who has been seconded from Bradford Museums service to undertake work with the help of the local community.

Mr Edwards, who is based at Ilkley’s Manor House Museum, said the study would be an important safety net as it could be the last chance to get a good record.

“The first thing is getting people involved in helping record the carved rocks because although they are well-known, we don’t have a standard record of them all and that’s what we need to establish because we are worried about erosion,” he said.

“We don’t have a benchmark record of how much damage has been done but hopefully this will help us understand how we can protect them in the future.”

The imaging techniques will include photogrammetry, which uses two-dimensional photographs to create 3-D computer images. Workshops will be held to teach people how to record data and an education worker has been commissioned to recruit schools to take part. Mr Edwards also hopes to set up a website where people can people can log findings and discover the true nature of the moor.

He said: “We’ve got to stop looking at that landscape as if it’s natural as, although it’s just a backdrop to people’s lives now, it looks the way it does as a result of human activity in the past. Part of this whole project is getting people to re-engage with the uplands, to understand we have had a role in its development and that we continue to have that role.

“I’m absolutely certain there’s a huge amount of knowledge out there. I’m hoping we can create a vehicle through the website where people can offer up the information and get a much clearer picture of what’s going on, so everybody can contribute and share. There’s got to be a permanent legacy from this.”

The Watershed Landscape project is run by Pennine Prospects, a regeneration partnership which includes Bradford Council. The archaeological study will be rolled out throughout the South Pennines uplands area, which stretches from Ilkley to Marsden, south of Hudder-sfield and includes parts of Lancashire.