Heat Wave Reveals Prehistoric Settlements in U.K. and Ireland

July 12, 2018 at 5:43 pm





Record temperatures scorch fields and farmland in Wales and Ireland, revealing imprints of Bronze Age settlements, Roman villas, and a medieval castle

The almost plowed-down medieval castle mound at Castell Llwyn Gwinau, Tregaron, shows up clearly under parched conditions. (Credit: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)




Record-breaking temperatures in Wales and Ireland have scorched fields and farmland, creating a phenomenon called “cropmarks,” according to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales,

Newly discovered cropmarks of a prehistoric or Roman farm near Langstone, Newport, South Wales.

Newly discovered cropmarks of a prehistoric or Roman farm near Langstone, Newport in South Wales. (Credit: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

 

The possible remains of a Roman villa in Chester-Gwent, South Wales.

The possible remains of a Roman villa in Chester-Gwent, South Wales. (Credit: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

The cropmarks were once fortification ditches or ramparts (similar to moats), used to slow down invaders. They are tell-tale signs of  5000-year-old villages, barrows (grave sites), Roman villas and a newly discovered medieval castle.

The ditches have since eroded and been plowed over, but still capable of holding water and nutrients, like swales, so they remain green even during periods of extreme drought, as the surrounding vegetation yellows and browns.

Aerial photographers for the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales are scrambling to get photos before the dry spell ends. All it will take is a couple of good rains and the cropmarks will be buried under a sea of green again.

“I’ve not seen conditions like this since I took over the archaeological flying at the Royal Commission in 1997,” said Senior Aerial Investigator Toby Driver in a press release. “So much new archaeology is showing it is incredible; the urgent work in the air now will lead to months of research in the office in the winter months to map and record all the sites which have been seen, and reveal their true significance.”

Archaeologists were surprised to discover a Roman villa hidden within a previously known prehistoric settlement, and newly discovered medieval cemetery of square barrows.

Cropmarks of a large prehistoric enclosure in the Vale of Glamorgan, with the faint footings of a probable Roman villa within (Credit: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

 

Cropmarks of a large Bronze Age barrow cemetery on the Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd (Credit: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

Another settlement was also spotted recently in Ireland. Photographer Anthony Murphy snapped this aerial image of a circular pattern in a field located in Newgrange:

settlement ruins

What appears to be the outline of an ancient building appeared in a field in Ireland. (Credit: Mythical Ireland)

“They look like giant henges or enclosures,” Murphy said on his Facebook page. “We’re already discussing them with an archaeologist and to say he’s very excited is a huge understatement!”