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How the current heatwave is providing unprecedented opportunities for archaeologists

Gold-rush style excitement as researchers scramble into aircraft and fly drones to find the outlines of previously hidden remains before the rain makes them disappear again.

Historic-sites-heatwave-10

Newly discovered crop marks showing the outline of a prehistoric or Roman farm near Langstone, Newport, south Wales (RCAHMW/SWNS)

The current heatwave is providing a near-unprecedented bonanza for archaeologists, as scorched conditions all over Britain expose the previously undiscovered or long-hidden outlines of everything from ancient fortifications to remnants of the Second World War.

In what was described as “a frantic race against time and weather”, archaeologists are scrambling into aeroplanes or flying drones to search for the outlines which are visible from the air as “crop marks”, before they are once more erased by rain.

In Wales alone the new discoveries have included an early medieval cemetery in south Gwynedd, a Roman villa in the Vale of Glamorgan, a prehistoric or Roman farm near Newport and a Roman fortlet near Magor, south Wales.

Members of the public are spotting the signs of everything from Bronze Age burial grounds in their local park to long-forgotten Second World War air raid shelters in back gardens and schools.

And for the professionals, something akin to archaeological gold-rush fever has set in.

“It’s hugely exciting,” said Louise Barker, a senior archaeological investigator at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW). “There have been whole new discoveries, covering all periods of time.

“Our senior aerial investigator Dr Toby Driver is flying all over Wales, going over landscapes and saying, ‘Oh my goodness, there is something I never expected down there.’ He says so much new archaeology is showing it is incredible.

“There probably hasn’t been anything like this for more than 40 years. It is pretty spectacular.”

Source: The Independent

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