Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Heatwave reveals national treasures for archaeologists across England

The heatwave has revealed buried foundations of Tixall Hall which was built in 1555. Credit: PA

The summer heatwave has been the country's driest since 1961 but it has also revealed treasures for archaeologists, Historic England said.

New secrets of England's buried history have been brought to light particularly: Iron Age settlements, neolithic ceremonial monuments, square burial mounds and even a Roman farm have been spotted for the first time in crops and grass patterns by aerial archaeologists.

The dry summer has been particularly good for experts examining the landscapes from the air as "cropmarks are better defined when the soil has less moisture," the government heritage agency said.

Iron Age round settlement

The dry spell has revealed archaeology such as this Iron Age round at St Ive, Cornwall. Credit: PA

These differences in colour or height of crops and grass can reveal the layouts of buried ditches or walls which once marked out settlements, field boundaries or funerary monuments.

An Iron Age round settlement at St Ive and a prehistoric settlement with concentric ditches at Lansallos in Cornwall are among dozens of new discoveries in the county.

Experts have also spotted Iron Age square burial mounds or barrows in Pocklington, Yorkshire, a Bronze Age burial mound and a ditch and series of pits that could mark a land boundary in Scropton, Derbyshire and a settlement or cemetery at Stoke by Clare, Suffolk.

Neolithic cursus monuments

Neolithic cursus monuments have been seen near Clifton Reynes, Milton Keynes Credit: Damian Grady/Historic England/PA

Among the new discoveries this year are two Neolithic "cursus" monuments near Clifton Reynes, Milton Keynes, one of which has been hidden until this year under a medieval bank which is gradually being ploughed away.

There are long rectangles thought to be paths or processional ways which are one of the oldest monument types in the country, usually dating from 3600 to 3000 BC.

Roman Farm

Different phases of activity can be seen at a Roman farm, Bicton, Devon Credit: Damian Grady/Historic England/PA

A Roman farm has emerged in a field of grass in Bicton, Devon, while prehistoric farms have been found in Stogumber and an ancient enclosure has been revealed in Churchstanton, both in Somerset.

Historic England uses aerial photography of cropmarks to produce archaeological maps which help to assess the significance of buried remains.

Bronze Age burial mound

A Bronze Age burial mound and pit alignment at Scropton, Derbyshire is among the newly discovered archaeology. Credit: PA

Features of the already-protected prehistoric ceremonial landscape near Eynsham, Oxfordshire that have not been visible for years can be seen, including a circle of pits.

Helen Winton, Historic England aerial investigation and mapping manager said it was "very exciting" to have had the hot weather for so long.

The last "exceptional year" was 2011, when more than 1,500 sites were discovered, she said.

Features of the protected landscape near Eynsham, Oxfordshire, can be seen for the first time in years. Credit: PA

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: "This spell of very hot weather has provided the perfect conditions for our aerial archaeologists.

"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."