A NEW service has been launched to advise farmers and land managers on how to look after vulnerable historic sites.

North Yorkshire County Council has appointed a rural archaeologist to help to manage some of the county's thousands of kilometres of stone walls, disused railways, airfields, prehistoric burial mounds, medieval villages, moats and castles.

Linda Smith will advise on practical ways in which the historic elements of the landscape can be managed as part of day-to-day farming practice.

She said: "It's not about digging but about finding out what is there and how to preserve it for future generations. Damage can be worst where the archaeology is hidden below ground.

"Tree planting, pond digging and shallow wetland management are the most common problems. They are often done to improve the natural environment, without realising it is at the expense of the heritage."