Britain’s summer heatwave exposes hidden archaeological gems

Britain’s record summer heatwave and dry weather have helped to expose a Roman farm, prehistoric settlements and other archaeological features that were hidden or even unknown to experts,a report said on Wednesday. Aerial photographs published by the government-backed Historic England show several buried sites highlighted by new surface vegetation patterns, or crop marks, including a prehistoric settlement at Lansallas in the south-western county of Cornwall, where dozens more new discoveries were reported.

At Eynsham in Oxfordshire, west of London, crop marks have exposed outlines of prehistoric funerary monuments dating back up to 6,000years.
Historic England said the Eynsham site was already protected but there were “features, such as a circle of pits, that have not been visible for years.”
“This spell of very hot weather has provided the perfect conditions for our aerial archaeologists to ‘see beneath the soil’ as crop marks are much better defined when the soil has less moisture,” said Duncan Wilson, the organization’s chief executive.
“The discovery of ancient farms, settlements and Neolithic cursus monuments is exciting,” Wilson said.
“The exceptional weather has opened up whole areas at once rather than just one or two fields and it has been fascinating to see so many traces of our past graphically revealed.”
Damian Grady, Historic England’s aerial reconnaissance manager, said the newly exposed features had given him one of his “busiest summers in 20 years of flying.”
“It is has been very rewarding making discoveries in areas that do not normally reveal crop marks,” Grady said. — dpa