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9 August 2006
Drought unearths prehistoric monuments in Wales

The summer drought has unearthed a treasure trove of finds for historians taking a birds eye view of Wales. Heatwave conditions, which have parched the Welsh countryside, proved ideal for aerial archaeologists. They were described as the best for at least decade with a host of buried sites revealed from the air.
     The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales made major discoveries using light aircraft to survey the Welsh landscape. "It has been absolutely astounding. Discoveries have been made across Wales visible both as cropmarks in ripening crops and scorched grassland," said a spokesman. They include two early Neolithic causewayed enclosures, built in Wales 6,000 years ago, of which only three were previously known. One was spotted in Radnorshire and the other in the Vale of Glamorgan. Other significant discoveries include a Bronze Age ritual enclosure, near Aberystwyth, and scores of prehistoric hillforts across the entire country.
     Project Manager for the Aerial Survey programme at the Royal Commission Dr Toby Driver said the results were significant. "Cropmarks first began appearing from the air during June, in Gwynedd, Montgomeryshire, and the Vale of Glamorgan. "But into July and August we have seen stunning results from all parts of Wales. "As the hot weather has progressed some remarkable sites have been discovered. From the Bronze Age we have scores of round barrows, once used for burial, visible as plough-levelled circles in fields. Sometimes the central grave pits are still visible. At Goginan, near Aberystwyth, a great circular enclosure was discovered with a barrow close by, likely to be a bronze age temple which may once have contained a circle of upright timber posts." He added: "Previously unknown hill-forts and prehistoric farms have been found in considerable numbers across the southern Llyn peninsula, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Montgomeryshire, telling us where pre-Roman Iron Age communities lived and farmed.
     Dr Driver said: "It has been a hugely successful year for aerial archaeology in Wales and we may not see another like it for a decade. I know I have some months of work ahead of me to work through the discoveries, notifying local archaeologists and ensuring some of the most remarkable are visited on the ground and further studied."

Source: icNorthWales (8 August 2006)

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