Britain's Ancient Past Discovered in NEW "Cropmarks."





“The bones of our past sticking through the flesh of the present”, is how historian Tom Holland on Twitter described a curious phenomenon currently manifesting itself in Britain.


The heatwave scorching the country’s fields and meadows is revealing the outline of stone-age forts, Celtic settlements and Roman farms – some previously unknown to archaeologists.

Even thousands of years after the buildings have gone, the soil still retains elements of their foundations. As a result, the grass on these patches changes colour at a different pace from elsewhere. Which means that the outlines of those buildings, from Britain’s prehistoric and Roman past, have now become visible – often for the first time.

The unprecedented spell of hot, dry weather across Wales has provided perfect conditions for archaeological aerial photography. As the drought has persisted across Wales, scores of long-buried archaeological sites have been revealed once again as ‘cropmarks’, or patterns of growth in ripening crops and parched grasslands. The Royal Commission’s aerial investigator Dr Toby Driver has been busy in the skies across mid and south Wales over the last week documenting known sites in the dry conditions, but also discovering hitherto lost monuments. With the drought expected to last at least another two weeks Toby will be surveying right across north and south Wales in a light aircraft to permanently record these discoveries for the National Monuments Record of Wales, before thunderstorms and rain wash away the markings until the next dry summer.

During the last week the Royal Commission has been inundated with media enquiries regarding recent discoveries during this unprecedented heatwave. Our aerial photographer Dr Toby Driver has spent many hours in the air recording these ancient and forgotten monuments in the Welsh landscape, helping to build upon our understanding of the historic landscape of Wales. The results which will take many months to analyse will be added to our database Coflein.


Cropmarks throughout Wales have been documented and recorded by the Royal Commission for decades, all these can now be viewed via an interactive map on Coflein. This year’s results will be added over the coming months, building a record for archaeologists, historians, researchers and the general public to explore online.



Information for this video obtained from RCAHMW or Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

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