As It Happens

U.K. heatwave reveals 'amazing' ancient sites in Wales

The heatwave in the United Kingdom have unveiled ancient sites through crop marks in Wales.

'I’ve not seen conditions like this since I first started flying in the late 90s,' said Toby Driver

Driver said some of the discoveries made from the new sites include unknown Roman fort dating back to 70 AD in South Wales. (RCAHMW)

The hot and dry weather in the United Kingdom has revealed archaeological sites in Wales.

Due to recent climate conditions, researchers say long lost settlements have been found across the region as outlines show in fields.

Toby Driver, an archaeologist with the UK's Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW), says he has never seen anything like this.

"I've not seen conditions like this since I first started flying in the late '90s," said Driver in an interview with As It Happens guest host Rosemary Barton.

"There's an amazing amount of new stuff coming out of the ground."

Driver says the UK and Wales in particular  is rich with archaeology. But over the years, sites have been ploughed away.

Due to the heatwave in the UK, crop marks have revealed ancient sites in Wales. (RCAHMW)

"On the farmer's fields, you have roman forts, you have Bronze Age burial mounds about the time of Stonehenge...those have all been ploughed flat," Driver said.

The crop marks were made due to the dry summer, as wheat fields and grassfields tend to seek moisture from long-gone fortification ditches. As a result, the plants that sit on top of historic structures grow lush and green, making them stand out from surrounding areas.

"It's almost like looking down at an X-ray of a field. You see these circles and squares laid out below you and that's terribly exciting to see that," Driver said.

Driver said some of the discoveries made from the new sites include unknown Roman fort dating back to 70 AD in South Wales.

Toby Driver flew on an airplane to capture images of the crop markings. (RCAHMW)

Along with that, he said his team has come across prehistoric cemeteries dating back to the Stonehenge and new Celtic settlements as well.

But Driver says the new crop marks can disappear as quickly as they show up as weather conditions change.

"If the crop ripens, or if we get rain, those marks will vanish," said Driver.

"Some of the sites we're seeing now have never been seen before, even though we've had people flying over Wales for 50 years looking for archaeology. So, you've got a two or three week window."

"It's almost like looking down at an X-ray of a field," says archaeologist Toby Driver. (RCAHMW)

Driver, who has been flying over fields and documenting archaeological sites for 20 years, says it still surprises him that there are always new things to be found while on the job.

He says he hopes these new findings will encourage more research on the ground.

"We're finding things that have been hidden for...2000 years. And the next dry summer, we may not see these sites, but we'll see other ones," he said.

"So, we'll keep working over, working over, trying to get a complete picture of Welsh history and where people lived."

Written by Samantha Lui. Produced by Julia Schindeler.

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