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The heatwave affecting the United Kingdom caused outlines of ancient and undiscovered structures to appear.
In some areas of the United Kingdom, the temperature had skyrocketed to over 30 degrees Celsius, with crops withering as a result. As the crops grew back, they revealed patterns called “cropmarks.” These patterns show the shapes of old structures that were built thousands of years ago. Some of the structures exposed by the cropmarks included a farm and a fortress built by the ancient Romans. The cropmarks also revealed burial mounds dating back to the Iron Age.
These structures had long been wiped out, but their foundations left marks on the soil.
The crops that were planted above those foundations form the cropmarks. Because these crops do not grow in the same way as normal plants, they tend to have a different color and height and are very distinct when viewed from the sky. According to Senior Archaeological Investigator Louise Barker, the crops grew differently because of the drought.
Archaeologists from Historic England, an organization that preserves the country’s historic sites, are making the most of the heatwave by taking photos of the cropmarks. These images will help the archaeologists evaluate the structures’ value and determine how to protect the cropmarks from damage.
However, the archaeologists have only a limited time to take photos because the cropmarks will eventually disappear once it rains. It will take a while before the cropmarks reappear because heatwaves in the United Kingdom are rare. The last one was in the 1970s.
Despite the expected rains, Barker remains satisfied with the archaeologists’ discovery because it will contribute to people’s knowledge about archaeology.