Making the best of the drought


While the summer drought has left fields and gardens parched, it has opened up aerial architectural treasures across the country.

Photographs taken from light aircraft have revealed hundreds of unknown or long forgotten sites. Archaeologists now face a busy autumn, interpreting images that will help shed light on how people lived up to 6,000 years ago.

Dr Toby Driver, of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, said: "It has been a hugely successful year for aerial archaeology. We may not see another like it for a decade.


Among the most significant finds are two 6,000-year-old Neolithic causewayed enclosures near Walton, Radnorshire, and near St Athan airfield, in the Vale of Glamorgan.

They are thought to be among the first large communal monuments built by prehistoric Britons and were probably used for markets, festivals and feasting.


This year marks the 100th anniversary of aerial archaeology in Britain. A picture taken by Lt Philip Henry Sharpe, of the Royal Engineers' balloon section, over Stonehenge in 1906 showed clearly how even slight earthworks could be picked out and more easily understood from above. Developments in aircraft, camera and film technology during the two World Wars allowed the RAF to photograph almost all of the country as part of its national survey in 1946. Very dry summers, which occur on average once a decade, provide ideal conditions for aerial archaeology. Crops grow taller and greener above trenches dug as part of ancient barrows or hill forts because extra water and nutrients are found there. Conversely, buried walls or raised stone areas that were part of Roman villas or roads can deprive plants of nutrients and show up as yellow patches on greener backgrounds, known as parching. Deep green crop markings photographed at Claverley, near Bridgenorth, Shropshire, showed up parallel ditches in a field of sugar beet. They probably surrounded a late prehistoric settlement.


Dave Cowley, of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, said: "Excavations, while important, are slow, expensive and look at a tiny proportion of a site. Aerial archaeology allows us an overview of the whole ground plan, which can also teach us a great deal about how these people lived."

There is more interesting material between the ...'s . I am not sure there would be that much history to find in Texas unless it was in the last 300 years,


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