Like much of the world, the UK has been undergoing a summer of drought—not as bad as Russia and some other spots, but pretty noticeable nonetheless. Parts of the Northwest show rivers and lakes at their lowest level since the 1960s. We’ve had a bit of rain recently, but, still, the first half of 2010 was the second driest in nearly a century. But there’s an upside. It’s great for archeologists. The ground is so dry that contours that would normally go unnoticed are now pretty visible. As Reuters comments,
From Roman forts to Neolithic settlements and military remains dating to World War Two, English Heritage has been busily photographing the exciting discoveries from the air.
Known as crop marks, the faint outlines of unseen buried structures emerged because of the length of the dry spell, leading the national conservator to label 2010 a vintage year for archaeology.
The outlines show up when crops grow at different rates over buried structures. Shallower soils tend to produce a stunted crop and are more prone to parching, bringing to light the new features.
“It’s hard to remember a better year,” said Dave MacLeod, a senior investigator with English Heritage.
It’s pretty cool, actually—Britain has this great history that goes back thousands of years, and we’re learning more about it every day. Too bad we had to learn about it this way.